Publication | Patterned Remittances Enhance Women's Health-Related Autonomy


Authors: Sharon H Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brueckner, Peter Bearman

INCITE has published results from a research study analyzing how the timing of remittances received by women in migrant-sending countries impacts women’s health and autonomy. Focusing on a sample of respondents in the Indian state of Kerala, primary findings reveal that the benefits of remittances for women’s autonomy manifest more through the regularity and frequency with which they are received, than the amount of money remitted.

These conclusions indicate the need to look beyond questions of amount when studying the impact of remittances. They also suggest that very simple changes, which enable migrants to send funds back home more regularly, can make a difference in the lives of women and children left behind. “With regular remittances, even of small amounts of money, women are able to plan, and this planning capacity translates into greater autonomy over their health care decisions,” notes Charlotte Wang, INCITE’s Director of Research, who co-authored the paper. “Right now, though, migrants pay a fixed fee each time they send money home, and this incentivizes them to limit the number of times they remit funds. If fees were associated with amount, rather than frequency, remittances would likely be more frequent.”

The research was conducted as part of INCITE’s Research & Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration Program (REALM), which centers on the social structures and dynamics of labor migration in the Persian Gulf region, with particular attention to processes taking place in migrant-sending countries. 

Read the full paper, published in Social Science and Medicine: Population Health, here.

PNAS Study: Neural mechanisms tracking popularity in real-world social networks

This paper identifies the neural signature of social status and popularity in small groups. Using a new paradigm for social cognitive neuroscience, we show that social cognition regions of the brain track target popularity. Specifically, the more popular targets are, the more brain activation of perceivers in each region, linearly. This is also true for the valuation regions of the brain. Specifically, the more popular targets are, the more brain activation of perceivers in each region, linearly as well. Importantly, we find that the valuation system is the orchestrator of neural activity in response to status. The brain’s system for detecting goal-relevant – and therefore affectively salient – stimuli automatically appraises group members, translating their popularity into enhanced engagement of systems that analyze others’ faces and predict their mental states. One important implication of this work is that it is likely that the mechanisms we have uncovered play a role in the induction and reproduction of hierarchy, a stable and consistent feature of human and primate social groups. 

Check out coverage on the study in


Read the paper:

Noam Zerubavel, Peter S. Bearman, Jochen Weber, and Kevin N. Ochsner. Neural mechanisms tracking popularity in real-world social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2015 ; published ahead of print November 23, 2015, doi:10.1073/pnas.1511477112.

Study of State of the Union Discourse, 1790-2014 Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

This study reveals that the entry into World War I in 1917 indexed the decisive transition to the modern period in American political consciousness, ushering in new objects of political discourse, a more rapid pace of change of those objects, and a fundamental reframing of the main tasks of governance. We develop a strategy for identifying meaningful categories in textual corpora that span long historic durées, where terms, concepts, and language use changes. Our approach is able to account for the fluidity of discursive categories over time, and to analyze their continuity by identifying the discursive stream as the object of interest.

A synoptic picture of the evolution of American politics is presented, based on analysis of the corpus of presidents’ State of the Union addresses, 1790–2014. The paper presents a strategy for automated text analysis that can identify meaningful categories in textual corpora that span long durées, where terms, concepts and language use changes, and evolution of topical structure is a priori unknown. Discourse streams identified as river networks reveal how change in contents masks continuity in the articulation of the major tasks of governance over US history.

Read the article:

Rule, Alix, Jean-Phillipe Cointet, and Peter S. Bearman. 2015. "Lexical Shifts, Substantive Changes, and Continuity in the State of the Union Discourse, 1790-2014." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Published online before print, August 10, 2015. doi:10.1073/pnas.1512221112. 

Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Autism Study Published in American Journal of Public Health

The latest study in INCITE's ongoing Understanding Autism project has been published in the American Journal of Public Health!

In this study, the authors assessed the association between assisted reproductive technology (ART) and diagnosed autistic disorder in a population-based sample of California births. They concluded that the association between ART and autism is primarily explained by adverse prenatal and perinatal outcomes and multiple births.

Read the article.


Christine Fountain, Yujia Zhang, Dmitry M. Kissin, Laura A. Schieve, Denise J. Jamieson, Catherine Rice, and Peter Bearman. (2015). Association Between Assisted Reproductive Technology Conception and Autism in California, 1997–2007. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302383.


Assisted Reproductive Technology and Autism Study Published in Human Reproduction



Are assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment factors or infertility diagnoses associated with autism among ART-conceived children?

Our study suggests that the incidence of autism diagnosis in ART-conceived children during the first 5 years of life was higher when intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was used compared with conventional IVF, and lower when parents had unexplained infertility (among singletons) or tubal factor infertility (among multiples) compared with other types of infertility.

Read the article.

Kissin, D.M., Y. Zhang, S.L. Boulet, C. Fountain, P. Bearman, L. Schieve, M. Yeargin-Allsopp and D.J. Jamieson. 2014. "Association of assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment and parental infertility diagnosis with autism in ART-conceived children," Human Reproduction; doi: 10.1093/humrep/deu338.

Anand Gopal's No Good Men Among the Living a Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award

In a breathtaking chronicle, Anand Gopal traces in vivid detail the lives of three Afghans caught in America’s war on terror. He follows a Taliban commander, who rises from scrawny teenager to leading insurgent; a US-backed warlord, who uses the American military to gain personal wealth and power; and a village housewife trapped between the two sides, who discovers the devastating cost of neutrality. Through their dramatic stories, Gopal shows that the Afghan war, so often regarded as a hopeless quagmire, could in fact have gone very differently. Top Taliban leaders actually tried to surrender within months of the US invasion, renouncing all political activity and submitting to the new government. Effectively, the Taliban ceased to exist—yet the Americans were unwilling to accept such a turnaround. Instead, driven by false intelligence from their allies and an unyielding mandate to fight terrorism, American forces continued to press the conflict, resurrecting the insurgency that persists to this day.

This book was recently announced as a finalist in the 2014 National Book Awards for Nonfiction.

Publication of Adam Reich's New book, Selling Our Souls

Selling Our Soulsis an in-depth investigation into how hospital organizations and the people who work in them make sense of and respond to the modern health care market.  Health care costs make up nearly a fifth of U.S. gross domestic product, but health care is a peculiar thing to buy and sell. Both a scarce resource and a basic need, it involves physical and emotional vulnerability and at the same time it operates as big business. Patients have little choice but to trust those who provide them care, but even those providers confront a great deal of medical uncertainty about the services they offer. Selling Our Souls looks at the contradictions inherent in one particular health care market—hospital care. Based on extensive interviews and observations across the three hospitals of one California city, the book explores the tensions embedded in the market for hospital care, how different hospitals manage these tensions, the historical trajectories driving disparities in contemporary hospital practice, and the perils and possibilities of various models of care.

Health & Society Study of the Commodification of Hospital Care Published in the American Journal of Sociology

A study by Health & Society scholar Adam Reich was published in the American Journal of Sociology.  The “moralized markets” school within economic sociology has convincingly demonstrated variation in the relationship between economic activity and moral values. Yet this scholarship has not sufficiently explored either the causes of this variation or the consequences of this variation for organizational practice. By examining different moral-market understandings and practices in the context of a single market-based organizational field, this article highlights the contradictory character of processes of commodification, as different historically institutionalized ideas conflict, in different ways, with the market logic that increasingly organizes the field as a whole. The article examines the contradictory commodification of hospital care in three hospitals within one Northern California community.

Understanding Autism study on Trajectories of Children with Autism Published in Pediatrics

Understanding Autism study on Trajectories of Children with Autism Published in Pediatrics
A study from the ISERP-affiliated Understanding Autism Project was published in Pediatrics. This study's objective was to describe the typical longitudinal developmental trajectories of social and communication functioning in children with autism and to determine the correlates of these trajectories.
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H&SS Seed Grant Results in Social Networks Feature

In September 2010, the Columbia University H&SS site (a partnership of INCITE and the Mailman School of Public Health) funded the seed grant "Linking spatial and social environment for population health." The study, made possible through the 10-month grant, was featured in the January 2012 Special Issue of Social Networks. The article "Capturing context: Integrating spatial and social network analyses," was co-authored by jimi adams (Cohort 5), Katherine Faust and Gina Lovasi (Cohort 4). Click here to read the article.