Faculty Features

Jenjira Yahirun

What most excites you about being at Bowling Green?
Since graduate school, I have followed and admired the cutting-edge research coming out of the Sociology department at BGSU. I am thrilled to be joining this stellar department and excited to collaborate with new colleagues, graduate students, and undergraduate students on research at the forefront of family and health demography.
What made you decide to go into your field?
After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I worked as a data analyst in the Education and Social Stratification branch at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C. This position exposed me to demography and I was hooked! I went to graduate school and specialized in demography and social stratification, assuming that I would return to D.C. to work in the federal government or at one of the various think tanks. During graduate school I enjoyed the types of research collaborations and interactions with faculty and students that are unique to university settings. So becoming an academic demographer, engaging in both teaching and research, was a perfect fit.
How is your work contributing to the public good?
My research examines how the family, as an institution, contributes to social inequality. The bulk of my recent work focuses on how the resources of family members shape individual health outcomes. One question I am particularly interested in is whether an adult child’s college education improves the health and well-being of older parents. In addition, I ask whether this is similar for mothers versus fathers, Whites versus racial and ethnic minorities, and parents who themselves have a college education or not. We know that the price of a college education has soared over the past decades, and that the pace of educational attainment has been uneven across groups, but that completing college remains a critical component of achieving middle class status. While this is undoubtedly important, what my work, and other work in this area is showing is that access to a college education also has ripple effects for the health and well-being of family members and may be contributing to health disparities in later life. Thus, policies that help people attain a college education remain more important than ever.