Sept. 26, Pam Herd

Pam Herd – “The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study: What Tracking the Lives of the Wisconsin High School Class of 1957 Has Taught Us about Leading Happy and Healthy Lives”

Photo of Pam Herd

Pamela Herd

Pamela Herd is Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology. Broadly, her work focuses on aging, policy, health, and inequality. She has two streams of research. One stream examines how social policies (i.e., Social Security) affect gender, race, and class inequalities. The second stream focuses on the relationship between social factors and health. She is the Principal Investigator of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a member of the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Click here to view actual lecture from September 26th at the Crossroads of Ideas, H.F. DeLuca Forum, Discovery Building .


Assigned Readings:

Cohort Profile: Wisconsin longitudinal study (WLS) by Pamela Herd, Deborah Carr and Carol Roan

One Response to Sept. 26, Pam Herd

  1. LumenNumen2 says:

    How wonderful that such a landmark study as the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey (WLSS) can be shared and built upon by further researchers as the cohort moves through time. So many aspects not even thought about by the original survey are getting explored by new technologies and topic areas not even dreamed of in 1957. That is the Wisconsin Idea in action – sharing for the greater good. Pam Herd did an excellent job of explaining the original study and showing how all the further research and data use has expanded on that original.
    However, one must be careful about how such data is extrapolated beyond the original cohort. Especially in light of the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory (see their books “Generations” and “Fourth Turning” about historic cohorts) which describes how each generational cohort is affected by world in which they live at the time of key stages in their life. The WLS cohort is on the cusp between The Silent and The Boomer – in a key transitional phase. What might be true for that particular cohort – at least in attitudes, values and priorities – may not apply to other cohorts at the same stage in life.
    Herd touched lightly on this phase shift when she talked about how it was a key transitional time for the rise of college education. Before the study, mostly only rich and privileged men went to college. After the study, college education became more ubiquitous and drew more middle class and females to college. Even though the original study was about higher education, it’s place at this juncture needs to be closely examined if the data is of be of value.
    It would have been most enlightening to replicate the original study in 2002-2004, when we are at the opposite end of the generational cohort cycle, so see what shifts with cohorts and what stays stable in the general population independent of the historic influences. Or even replicate it in 2020-2025 when the cohort alignment will be the same as the original study in 1957. It would be interesting to see what attitudes and values shift between generational cohorts, and test whether the Strauss-Howe theory aligns with the data.
    Yet another way to use WLS to study human interactions. Thank you for such an interesting and valuable data set, and for sharing it freely for the betterment of all.

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