Noreen Goldman

Noreen Goldman

2024 Honored Member

Noreen Goldman is a prolific scholar whose influential research focuses primarily on the impact of socioeconomic factors on health and the physiological pathways through which these factors operate. She is the author or co-author of more than 200 articles in population, epidemiology, sociology and statistics journals and numerous book chapters and monographs. She is well-known for rigorous, innovative research design and important methodological contributions. Her research is uniformly characterized by a strong focus on data quality, demographic processes, exposure-to-risk, and potential bias.  After receiving her master’s and doctoral degrees at Harvard, Goldman has spent all of her career at Princeton University, except for brief stints early on at Stanford and the World Fertility Survey project in London.  She is currently the Hughes‐Rogers Professor of Demography and Public Affairs at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs and Faculty Associate at the Office of Population Research. 

To answer key questions on the demography of health, Goldman has designed and led several large scale survey research projects.  Early experience in survey research design came from her involvement in evaluating dat quality from the World Fertility Surveys and participating in the design and testing for the Demographic and Health Survey standard questionnaire.  To examine rapid changes in maternal and child health and health care utilization in rural Guatemala, Goldman and colleagues conducted the Guatemalan Survey of Family Health in 1995.  Among the many questionnaire design innovations was the use of event history calendar methods to elicit detailed time sequences of pregnancies, deliveries, and children’s illnesses.  A second survey-based project, the Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study (SEBAS) in Taiwan, led by Goldman and colleagues, was a pioneering longitudinal study of social effects on health.  It was among the earliest large-scale social surveys to incorporate physiological measures and biomarkers.   In an extensive series of studies based on these data, Goldman and colleagues have traced relationships among social position, environmental stressors, social integration, social support, physical and mental health, and mortality.  Their thorough evaluations of biomarker data provide essential guideposts and caveats to other biosocial surveys.  The research suggests that demographers need to understand the limits of what biomarkers and other physiological data can tell them and calls into question the notion that biomarkers are the “gold standard” or “unbiased” measure of health status that they are often considered to be.

In another path-breaking project, Goldman has teamed up with a molecular biologist and a cardiologist to study the contributions of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and gene expression (epigenetics) to the long-term cardiac health of children born in the 1990s and included in the Fragile Families study.  In an add-on survey, Goldman and colleagues are interviewing these children (who are now adults) and collecting cardiovascular and other health data.  This project will provide clearer empirical evidence about the effects of disadvantage and psychophysiological stress on cardiovascular outcomes, as well as the physiological pathways through which these relationships operate. 

Work in Guatemala and other Latin American countries sparked Goldman’s interest in the health of the Latin American immigrants to the US and US-born Latinos.  Her extensive contributions to research in this area includes studies of health selection among Mexican migrants to the US, the prevalence of obesity in Mexico and among the Mexican-origin population in the US, and the role of occupational disparities in creating racial and ethnic differentials in effects of the COVID pandemic.   She and colleagues have also published extensively on the role of occupational segregation by race, ethnicity, immigrant status, and sex in accounting for the Latino disadvantage, relative to Whites, in functional limitations at older ages.  This work demonstrates that Latinos, particularly Latino immigrants, as well as Black workers are much more likely than White workers to be employed in physical demanding occupations during their work lives.  It also shows that physically demanding work is closely linked with a higher prevalence of functional limitations at older ages. 

One of Goldman’s many strengths is that she is an outstanding and avid research collaborator.  She has worked successfully with a wide range of colleagues in demography and many other fields and clearly enjoys collaborative work.  Colleagues value her common sense, research ethics and standards, good humor, persistence, ability to think through complex problems, thoroughness, and friendship – even though with her inexhaustible energy, it can be hard to keep up with her!  Goldman has brought the same collaborative spirit to her involvement in PAA and other population-related organizations.  She has served as a member of the PAA Board of Directors and PAA Vice President as well as on several committees.  She has also been active in IUSSP and a member of the Board of Directors of the Guttmacher Institute, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, and numerous committees of the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and several editorial boards.

Over the years, Goldman has taught and mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.  She is a much loved and award-winning instructor who is dedicated to high-quality teaching and mentoring.  She has regularly taught demographic methods, research design, epidemiology, mathematical demography, and other foundational courses as well as required statistics courses – all tough courses, but highly praised by students.  Her former students hold positions throughout the US and in other countries in major universities and leading organizations.  Goldman is a dedicated and caring graduate advisor who frequently maintains close ties with her advisees long after they finish their degrees. 

Despite all she contributes to the field of demography, she also loves “relaxing,” i.e., hiking in the mountains, cross-country skiing, new adventures, meeting new people, international travel, the theater, art museums, good food, exploring New York City, and especially the company of friends and family.

List of Donors

Theresa Andrasfay Ron Brookmeyer Alison Buttenheim
Sharon Bzostek Susan Cassels John Casterline
Sara Curran Jennifer Dowd Irma Elo
Filiz Garip Lauren Hale Tod Hamilton
Patrick Heuveline Ronald Lee I-Fen Lin
Douglas Massey Jane Menken Ann Morning
Jenna Nobles Alberto Palloni Anne Pebley
James M. Raymo German Rodriquez Hiram Sánchez
Narayan Sastry Heeju Sohn Marta Tienda
Mark Vanlandingham Maxine Weinstein Rebeca Wong