William M. (Bill) Mason has made major contributions to social demography, with his ground-breaking scholarship, his high-standard mentoring and caring for students, and his contributions to institution building in the discipline of demography.
He is particularly well-known for his many pioneering methodological contributions, including age-period-cohort analysis, multilevel and contextual analysis, and missing data imputation models. His contributions played important roles in advancing methodological rigor and sophistication in the disciplines of sociology and demography.
Bill’s substantive research covers a wide range of topics, including marriage and family, fertility, mortality, family planning, political alienation, and health and mobility. His work has been published in Science, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Demography, and Sociological Methodology. Bill also has contributed to research and collection of data on China, and to training and mentoring new generations of scholars around the world, in particular those from China.
After obtaining his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1970, he joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Business there. He then moved to Duke and subsequently to Michigan. He ended his career at UCLA, where he was professor of sociology and statistics. At Duke, Michigan, and UCLA he was an important mentor to students, many of whom now hold major positions in other universities. He also played substantial roles in furthering demography as a discipline, serving as Director of the Population Studies Center at Michigan (1987-1990) and acting as a key mover in establishing the California Center for Population Research at UCLA. He also served as the chair of the Methodology Section of the American Sociological Association.
Bill’s academic achievements have been widely acknowledged. He is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association, was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Research Fellow of the East-West Center, and a recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award, an award recognizing sociologists who have contributed to sociological methodology.