Research and Funding

Division of Behavioral and Social Research

National Academies Publications

BSR has commissioned a number of National Academies reports on topics such as global aging trends; data confidentiality and accessibility; health care cost growth and output measurement; and the psychology of aging. BSR has produced a CD which contains PDFs of these reports. For a copy, or for more information, please contact

front coverStrengthening the Scientific Foundation for Policymaking to Meet the Challenges of Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean: Summary of a Workshop

Recent demographic trends in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region will shape the growth and age composition of its populations for decades to come. The rapid mortality decline that began during the 1950s, and the more recent and even sharper reduction in fertility, will produce unusually high rates of growth of the older population, a large change in overall population age composition, and significant increases in the ratio of older to younger population. According to the 2013 United Nations projections, the number of people aged 60 and over in LAC is expected to increase from 59 million in 2010 to 196 million in 2050, and the number of people aged 80 and over will increase from 8.6 million to more than 44 million during the same period. To explore the process of rapid aging in the LAC, the National Academies of Medicine conducted a workshop. Participants of the workshop presented scientific research emphasizing what is unique about aging in LAC and what is similar to other processes around the world, highlighted the main areas where knowledge of the aging process in LAC is insufficient and new research is required, and proposed data collection that will produce information for policymaking while being responsive to the needs of the research community for harmonized, highly comparable information. The workshop afforded participants an opportunity to consider strategies for articulating data collection and research in the region so that country-based teams can reap the benefits from being part of a larger enterprise while simultaneously maintaining their own individuality and responding to the particular needs of each country. The full report is available at the National Academies Press website.

front cover Sociality, Hierarchy, Health: Comparative Biodemography - A Collection of Papers

Sociality, Hierarchy, Health: Comparative Biodemography is a collection of papers that examine cross-species comparisons of social environments with a focus on social behaviors along with social hierarchies and connections, to examine their effects on health, longevity, and life histories. This report covers a broad spectrum of nonhuman animals, exploring a variety of measures of position in social hierarchies and social networks, drawing links among these factors to health outcomes and trajectories, and comparing them to those in humans. Sociality, Hierarchy, Health revisits both theoretical underpinnings of biodemography and the empirical findings that have emerged over the past two decades.The full report is available at the National Academies Press website.

front cover Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being refers to how people experience and evaluate their lives and specific domains and activities in their lives. This information has already proven valuable to researchers, who have produced insights about the emotional states and experiences of people belonging to different groups, engaged in different activities, at different points in the life course, and involved in different family and community structures. Research has also revealed relationships between people's self-reported, subjectively assessed states and their behavior and decisions. Research on subjective well-being has been ongoing for decades, providing new information about the human condition. During the past decade, interest in the topic among policy makers, national statistical offices, academic researchers, the media, and the public has increased markedly because of its potential for shedding light on the economic, social, and health conditions of populations and for informing policy decisions across these domains. The full report is available at the National Academies Press website.

front cover New Directions in the Sociology of Aging

The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology and sociology to the study of aging and identifies promising new research directions in these sub-fields. Included in this study are nine papers prepared by experts in sociology, demography, social genomics, public health, and other fields, that highlight the broad array of tools and perspectives that can provide the basis for further advancing the understanding of aging processes in ways that can inform policy. The full report is available at the National Academies Press website.

front coverAging in Asia: Findings from New and Emerging Data Initiatives

Aging in Asia: Findings from New and Emerging Data Initiatives is a peer-reviewed collection of papers from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand that were presented at two conferences organized in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and Science Council of Japan; the first conference was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, and the second conference was hosted by the Indian National Science Academy in New Delhi. The papers in the volume highlight the contributions from new and emerging data initiatives in the region and cover subject areas such as economic growth, labor markets, and consumption; family roles and responsibilities; and labor markets and consumption. The full report is available at the National Academies Press website.

front coverPerspectives on the Future of the Sociology of Aging

The Panel on New Directions in Social Demography, Social Epidemiology, and the Sociology of Aging was established in August 2010 under the auspices of the Committee on Population of the National Research Council to prepare a report that evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology, and sociology to the study of aging and seeks to identify promising new research in these fields. Perspectives on the Future of the Sociology of Aging provides candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the final published volume as sound as possible and to ensure that the volume meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The report is available here.

front coverInternational Differences in Mortality at Older Ages: Dimensions and Sources

International Differences in Mortality at Older Ages: Dimensions and Sources examines patterns in international differences in life expectancy above age 50 and assesses the evidence and arguments that have been advanced to explain the poor position of the United States relative to other countries. The papers in this deeply researched volume identify gaps in measurement, data, theory, and research design and pinpoint areas for future high-priority research in this area. In addition to examining the differences in mortality around the world, the papers in International Differences in Mortality at Older Ages look at health factors and life-style choices commonly believed to contribute to the observed international differences in life expectancy. They also identify strategic opportunities for health-related interventions. This book offers a wide variety of disciplinary and scholarly perspectives to the study of mortality, and it offers in-depth analyses that can serve health professionals, policy makers, statisticians, and researchers.

front coverThe Subjective Well-Being Module of the American Time Use Survey: Assessment for Its Continuation

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, included a subjective well-being (SWB) module in 2010 and 2012. The module, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is being considered for inclusion in the ATUS for 2013. The National Research Council was asked to evaluate measures of self-reported well-being and offer guidance about their adoption in official government surveys. The charge for the study included an interim report to consider the usefulness of the ATUS SWB module, specifically the value of continuing it for at least one more wave. Among the key points raised in this report are the value, methodological benefits, and cost and effects on the ATUS and new opportunities. A meeting report is avialable.

Assessing the Impact of Severe Economic Recession on the Elderly

The economic crisis and recession that began in 2008 has had a significant impact on the well-being of certain segments of the population, and its disruptive effects can be expected to last well into the future. NIA, concerned with this issue as it affects the older population in the United States, asked the Committee on Population to review existing and ongoing research and to delineate the nature and dimensions of potential scientific inquiry in this area. Under NIA’s sponsorship, CPOP convened a meeting of experts to discuss these issues. A workshop report is available.

front coverPreparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia

As part of an ongoing project to review the data needs to meet the new and emerging challenges posed by an aging Asia, The Committee on Population at the National Research Council has convened a series of meetings to provide an opportunity for Asian policymakers from several countries to interact with leading scientists from a variety of disciplines to review the existing evidence on economic security, health, and living conditions of older people and the ways in which critical changes are affecting their well-being. The members of the Panel, in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences and the Science Council of Japan, issued a report in advance of the meeting.

front coverPanel on Understanding Divergent Trends in Longevity in High-Income Countries

The Committee on Population of the National Research Council (NRC) established a Panel on Understanding Divergent Trends in Longevity in High-Income Countries to examine trends in life expectancy at older ages, to identify possible lessons about modifiable risk factors, and to discern implications for the future trajectory of mortality at advanced ages. The Panel commissioned a series of papers and issued a Panel Report.

front coverAccounting for Health and Healthcare: Approaches to Measuring the Costs and Sources of Their Improvement

The Panel to Advance a Research Program on the Design of National Health Accounts was established by the Committee on National Statistics to study and make recommendations about targeting research to improve and expand the knowledge base necessary for measuring changes in the population's health within an accouting framework. The Panel issued a Final Report describing the state of research and accounting methodologies, and on approaches for tracking productivity in the healthcare sector.

front coverConducting Biosocial Surveys—Collecting, Storing, Accessing and Protecting Biospecimens and Biodata

This report from an Panel convened by the Committee on Population, offers findings and recommendations concerning the best approaches to the collection, storage, use, and sharing of biospecimens gathered in social science surveys and the digital representations of biological data derived therefrom. It is aimed at researchers interested in carrying out such surveys, their institutions, and their funding agencies.

front coverGrand Challenges of Aging

The National Academies organized a symposium called “The Grand Challenges of Our Aging Society,” held in Washington, DC, on May 28-29, 2009. Presentations in the fields of biology, public health, medicine, informatics, macroeconomics, finance, urban planning, and engineering approached the challenges of aging from many different angles. A Workshop Report is available.

front coverImproving Health Care Cost Projections for the Medicare Population

A workshop was convened in January 2010 by the Committee on National Statistics to consider the current state and use of projections and simulation models and available data sources for the construction of cost projections for Medicare. A workshop report is available.

front coverImproving the Measurement of Late-Life Disability in Population Surveys: Beyond ADLs and IADLs, Summary of a Workshop

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), in collaboration with the Committee on Population (CPOP), convened a public workshop to review a number of methodological advances with an eye towards improving measurement of physical and cognitive limitations in population surveys of older adults. The workshop focused on disability measures suitable for population surveys and that are most relevant for monitoring trends and policy-oriented research and evaluation. A final report is available.

front coverBiosocial Surveys

This report is the culmination of work undertaken by a Panel convened by the Committee on Population. The project emerged from a series of discussions and interchanges that started in 2005 and ended in mid-2007. A workshop, held in June 2006, considered (and the contributions to the book reflect) a few fundamental questions: What has been learned from what has already been done? What is the place of genetic information in social research? What new concepts and methods are being developed or need to be developed?

front coverAging in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Furthering Research

Under the auspices of the Committee on Population, a Panel was organized to develop a series of workshops on advancing aging research in sub-Saharan Africa. The emphasis was on exploring ways in which to promote U.S. research interests and to augment sub-Saharan African governments’ capacity to address the many challenges posed by population aging. A final report is available.

Social Determinants of Health Among Older People

July 12-13, 2006, open meeting held in Washington DC - The US National Research Council's Committee on Population convened a panel of leading social and behavioral researchers with expertise in population aging and adult health to review the initial analytical and strategic documents of the Commission's nine "knowledge networks." The panel was specifically asked to identify additional recent studies on adult health at older ages that might bear on the Commission's deliberations and identify potential areas of interventions aimed at moderating the effects of the social determinants of health among older people. A report is available.

front coverWhen I’m 64

To further advance understanding of how social and individual factors can improve the health and functioning of older adults, the National Research Council tasked the Committee on Aging Frontiers in Social Psychology, Personality, and Adult Developmental Psychology with exploring research opportunities in social, personality, and adult developmental psychology. A final report is available.

front coverHealth and Safety Needs of Older Workers

Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers provides an image of what is currently known about the health and safety needs of older workers and the research needed to encourage social policies that guarantee older workers a meaningful share of the nation’s work opportunities. A final report is available.

front coverTechnology for Adaptive Aging

Technology for Adaptive Aging is the product of a workshop that brought together distinguished experts in aging research and in technology to discuss applications of technology to communication, education and learning, employment, health, living environments, and transportation for older adults. It includes all of the workshop papers and the report of the committee that organized the workshop. The committee report synthesizes and evaluates the points made in the workshop papers and recommends priorities for federal support of translational research in technology for older adults.

front coverUnderstanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life

A panel under the direction of the Committee on Population held a series of meetings to discuss current research on disparities in health in let life and to make recommendations on a research agenda and set of priorities for further study and interventions. A series of commissioned papers and a final report are available

front coverElder Mistreatment

The National Research Council, through the Committee on National Statistics, established a panel of experts to assess the current state of knowledge in the area of elder mistreatment and to formulate a set of recommendations for a research agenda in that field. The panel issued a report which notes research and data needs.

front coverPreparing for an Aging World

The Committee on Population, a body within the National Research Council, was asked to convene a panel to review new research and demographic trend data to describe and provide recommendations for an international research agenda and for the types of data needed to implement that agenda in the context of rapid demographic change. A final report is available.

front coverThe Aging Mind—Opportunities in Cognitive Research

The National Research Council was asked to identify areas of opportunity in which additional research support would substantially improve understanding of cognitive functioning in aging. The Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging was formed to identify highly promising opportunities in behavioral science, cognitive science, and neuroscience and at the conjunctions of these fields. A report is available.

front coverBetween Zeus and the Salmon: The Biodemography of Longevity

The product of a 1997 Committee on Population Panel commissioned by NIA, this volume deals with such diverse topics as the role of the elderly in other species and among human societies past and present, the contribution of evolutionary theory to our understanding of human longevity and intergenerational transfers, mathematical models for survival, and the potential for collecting genetic material in household surveys. Full text of this report is available

front coverImproving Data on America’s Aging Population

The Committee on National Statistics and the Committee on Population convened a workshop in March 1996 to discuss data on the aging population that address the emerging and important social, economic, and health conditions of the older population. The purposes of the workshop were to identify how the population at older ages in the next few decades will differ from the older population today, to understand the underlying causes of those changes, to anticipate future problems and policy issues, and to suggest future needs for data for research in these areas. A report is available.

front coverDemography of Aging

The Committee on Population, under the auspices of the National Research Council was tasked to review the current state of research and data on emerging trends in population aging and make recommendations on new and fruitful areas of research in the field of Demography and Aging. A final report is available.