Dondena Interviews

The Dondena Centre conducts interviews with speakers in the Dondena Seminar Series, asking about their talk, their current research, and their unique views on their field. Click the links below to read these interesting discussions.



Giovanna Merli, Duke University

"The social networks toolkit is finding a comfortable place among methodological innovations in demography that help the understanding of the relationship between micro and macro processes."


Jose Tavares, Nova School of Business and Economics

"Economists need to be aware that people are not going to be ruled by or going to be understood fully through models and mathematics. But if we acknowledge mathematics is only part of the issue and you use it wisely, you can uncover the non-obvious, but important."


Shanto Iyengar, Stanford University

"[F]or years people believed that the only polarization that existed in America was among legislators and elites, but we’re showing that that’s not true. We’re showing that polarization has diffused, and ordinary people now feel quite distant."




Pamela Campa, University of Calgary

"When I explain my research ... about the role of culture in explaining female participation in the labor market, people tell me this is about culture and culture is persistent, and even if we provide child care, if we make work more flexible, nothing is going to work. But instead, if we learn how attitudes change, maybe we can draw some policy implications about this."


Ryan Masters, University of Colorado Boulder

"I would like to see, especially sociologists, ... moving past ... our reluctance to actually study physiological processes, or even physiological outcomes. We sort of have a fear of biomarkers, a fear of genetics, as providing alternative explanations that possibly limit our contributions to understanding social structure and human population health."


Paula Gobbi, Paris School of Economics

"A policy you might think decreases fertility might increase it due to the effect on this poverty-driven-childlessness."


Marc Luy, Vienna Institute of Demography

"There really are individual stories behind what’s going on in the population. It’s very difficult to say that it’s smoking everywhere."


Paolo Campana, University of Oxford

"Criminal activities do take place, and some of these activities are actually quite complex. Like shipping drugs from Latin America into the U.S. or Europe ... Usually, in the legal world, you would see complex contracts and all sorts of mechanisms in place to solve disputes. Well, this is not possible in the underworld. So what do they do?"


Shelley Clark, McGill University

"In sub-Saharan Africa, these kids of single mothers are more likely to die. So you’re working with people living on the edge. And some of these factors are really, really important. I just feel the criticalness of working in a place like sub-Saharan Africa."


Stuart Basten, Oxford University

"If you’re in a situation where it’s only the man working, then you have one income supporting father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, wife, and child. And so the prospect of adding another baby to that, it’s unsustainable."


Maria Rita Testa, Vienna Institute of Demography and the Vienna University of Economics and Business

"We still have to make some effort to try to collect and harmonize data at the European level. The experience with this Gender and Generations Programme was positive, but still when you want to compare, when you want to run a genuine comparative analysis, you face a lot of inconsistencies because in one country a question was asked this way, in another country there was a slightly different question wording. But you know, question wording and these kinds of issues on desires and intentions may make a huge difference in the response."



Elizabeth Thomson, Stockholm University

“We have tremendous amounts of data that we sometimes can hardly analyze. But lots of times you get into a question and you don’t have the data that you need. One thing that I really wish we could do collectively is to build into the national statistical system the collection and preservation of life histories.”


Mark Hayward, University of Texas at Austin

“Times are changing and they’re changing fast. So certainly one of the things to note in this dose-response relationship between education and mortality is that this is probably the strongest proof in observational data that it’s causal. And, more than that, it’s working in every way you can think possible.”


Enkelejda Havari, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia

“From a policy perspective it is valuable to analyze the possible channels through which exposure to wars can impair the socio-economic status. Among many channels

such as financial hardship, stress, and hunger, we find the latter to play a crucial role.”


Allan Hill,  Harvard School of Public Health and University of Southampton

“Social scientists are really behind when it comes to thinking about incorporating biomarkers and other physical measurements into their analyses.”


Delia Baldassarri, New York University

“I’d like people first to become more familiar with the mathematical and graph theory basis upon which social network research is based. I’d also like them to engage more seriously in theory construction, in terms of thinking about how network consequences can be quite complex.”


Jordi Vidal-Robert, University of Warwick

"I think that historians have done a really good job of going to the past and trying to explain or get good data, and now it’s time for economic historians, or people who have the tools, the mathematical tools or economic models, to analyze that and test different theories and explain some of the past, just to learn something for the future."


Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania

"In academia, the rewards of success are very high. Not the financial ones. But I think for talented people, I mean people who are high achievers and have the right temperament and go to the right place, most of them will succeed."


Eric Kaufmann, Birkbeck University of London

"[C]onditions in our period are conducive to what I call “endogenous growth sects.” That is, world-denying fundamentalist groups who set their face against the modern world and grow their own ... It’s the groups that really wall themselves off that are much more consistently, decade after decade, successful in growth rates."


Francesco Trebbi, The University of British Columbia

"That’s a typical thing you would say, specifically with respect to people who can kill you."



A. Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale School of Management

“Migration potentially has larger returns than pretty much everything else we do, because allowing people to move from one place to another, where the labor market conditions are much better, they can find their own job and they an earn a bigger income, then everything else, like their satisfaction of their health needs, their education needs, et cetera, falls into place.”


Ian Timaeus, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“I think the future for research probably lies in a combination of rich longitudinal data sets with microsimulation of social processes that, if you like, has theory built into the models and then uses clever statistics to tie them to the empirical data. But that means putting together people with a portfolio of skills that crosses a very wide range.”


Sabino Kornrich, Fundacion Juan March in Madrid

“I was worried about these results for a while because basically it suggests that egalitarianism is associated with less sex in marriage, and that’s not really a cutting-edge liberal message.”


Anne Gauthier, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute

“Where the exciting work comes is working with other disciplines. I mean, I’m coming here and meeting with the economist and the political scientist. Now, sometimes we don’t talk exactly the same language and that’s the difficulty, but I think that’s the way to do some really exciting research. Go beyond your immediate group and try to reach out.”


















Last updated 08 October 2015 - 14:18:14