May 12, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 16

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Michael’s demographic research wins Lapham honor

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Robert Michael

    Robert Michael, an expert on the measurement of poverty and family issues, has received the Robert J. Lapham Award from the Population Association of America. The biennial award recognizes contributions that blend research with the application of demographic knowledge to policy issues; Michael has made such contributions throughout his career as a researcher and leader of scholarly organizations.

    Michael, the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, edited in 2001 the volume Social Awakening: Adolescent Behavior as Adulthood Approaches, a major study of American teen-agers, and contributed a chapter on the determinants of early sexual behavior in adolescents.

    A noted writer on sexuality, Michael also co-edited with Edward Laumann, the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology and the College, the landmark volume Sex in America: A Definitive Survey and The Social Organization of Sexuality, both published in 1994. Michael and Laumann also edited a third book on sexual behavior, titled Sex, Love and Health in America: Private Choices and Public Policies, published in 2001.

    In the area of family economics, Michael has written on the causes of divorce, the reasons for the growth of one-person households, the impact of inflation on families, and the consequences for the family, and especially children, of the rise in women’s employment.

    He chaired a National Academy of Science/National Research Council panel on pay equity in the United States, a project that investigated the size of and explanations for differences in pay between women and men. He also has written on expenditure patterns in the household, including Allocation of Income Within the Household (with Edward Lazear, 1988), on the factors that determine parental spending on children in various types of households.

    Michael chaired the NAS/NRC panel on poverty and family assistance, which recommended major changes in the official measure of poverty in the United States. The National Academy Press published in 1995 the panel’s report, Measuring Poverty: A New Approach.

    From 1995 through the spring of 1998, Michael was the project director for the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1997, the new cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey Program funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center. This new cohort of 9,000 young men and women ages 12 to 16 was surveyed for the first time in 1997, with annual surveys planned for years to come. Information from the survey formed the basis for Social Awakening: Adolescent Behavior as Adulthood Approaches.

    Between 1996 and 1997, Michael served as the deputy director of the Northwestern/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research, a multi-year research center funded through the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Michael served as Dean of the Harris School from 1989 to 1994 and from 1998 to 2002. From 1984 to 1989, Michael was Director of the NORC, and from 1978 to 1980, he directed the West Coast office of the National Bureau of Economics Research Inc.

    He has been a University faculty member since 1980, having previously taught economics at Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles.