Professor of Sociology and Centennial Commission Professor in the Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin
Mark Hayward received his BA degree in Sociology at Washington State University in 1975 and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University in 1981. He started his research career at Battelle Human Affairs Research Center and then held academic appointments at the University of Southern California and Penn State University. He joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.
Hayward is the incoming editor of Demography, and he has served as a member of the editorial teams at Demography, Journal of Gerontology, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and .Research on Aging He was elected president of the Southern Demographic Association and chair of the Aging and Life Course and Sociology of Population sections of the American Sociological Association. He has served on the boards of the Population Association of America and the Society of Biodemography and Social Biology, and he was a member and then chair of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research Council. He also chaired PAA’s Government and Public Affairs Committee. Hayward was a member of the Committee on Population, National Academy of Sciences and the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health and Society Scholars Program. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Center for Health Statistics.
Hayward is an internationally recognized expert on applications of the life course framework to the demography of aging and population health. Hayward’s research has been pioneering throughout his career. His early research on the social demography of retirement was among the first to apply demographic modeling techniques to show how retirement behaviors were part of a larger career trajectory – a framework that was largely neglected up that time. This work highlighted the complexity of the retirement “transition” and the connections between retirement behaviors and the experiences and resources accumulated over an extended part of the career.
Hayward’s research has played a critical role in broadening our understanding of population health that integrates morbidity, disability, and mortality experiences (healthy life expectancy) to assess not only how long people live but how long they live with morbidity and disability. Work with Eileen Crimmins illustrated how health processes reflecting improvements in health and mortality could also be reflected in the worsening of health at the population level. Moreover, although it is frequently the case that longer life spans accruing to social advantages point to longer health spans, there are important exceptions to this pattern such as US Hispanics where longer life spans are associated with longer spans of disability. His work in this area has also highlighted that life course experiences can combine in potentially complex ways to alter healthy life expectancy – adding an important policy perspective in how to improve population health. His work with Jennifer Karas Montez, for example, shows the fundamental importance of education for offsetting the negative consequences of early life childhood disadvantages for healthy life expectancy.
Hayward’s research has highlighted the fundamental importance of the “long arm of childhood” for understanding later-life health. His work has helped researchers understand how childhood conditions become embodied, and how childhood conditions launch an array of both social and biological pathways affecting adult health decades later in the life course. His many contributions in this area have helped make life course approaches to health one of the liveliest areas of population health research. Among his many contributions, Hayward’s research makes clear that the “body does not forget” — early life conditions combine with adult conditions in a cumulative fashion to influence adult health and mortality. His work also makes clear that adverse early life health problems have a profound and direct consequence for both adult disease and cognitive aging.
Hayward’s most recent research has advanced our understanding of the role of education for disparities and trends in US mortality. His work was among the first to document the rise in mortality among less educated women. In collaboration with Jennifer Karas Montez and Robert Hummer, he showed that the link between mortality and education was highly dynamic and had changed rapidly over the course of the later part of the 20th century, making advanced education critical for improvements in health. This work played an important role in helping us understand why social inequality was rapidly expanding – mortality among the most and least educated were diverging. Most recently in collaboration with Jennifer Karas Montez, his work has helped set an agenda for addressing how macro social, institutional and policy changes are helping to rapidly shape changes in the ways in which educational attainment is helping people to increasingly maximize their life chances. This work also speaks to the importance of historical context and social institutions for defining the boundary conditions for the association, including its causal influence on adult health outcomes.
Hayward has played a profound role in the development of population health as a field through his insights into the importance of life course experiences, the integration of social and biomedical perspectives, and the embedding of life course processes in the macro institutional context. His body of work is illustrative of the importance of a “cells to society” approach in understanding the complex array of forces influencing population health. A successful mentor to many generations of graduate students and junior faculty across the country, he has inspired new generations of demographers and population health scientists to approach their work with strong conceptual frameworks, creativity, analytic rigor, and a deep understanding of the importance of an interdisciplinary perspective. His work will serve as part of the bedrock for future advances in population health for decades to come.