Duane Alwin

Duane Alwin
McCourtney Professor of Sociology and Demography
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Demography


B.A. Indiana University, with Honors in Sociology, 1966
M.S. University of Wisconsin, Sociology, 1970
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Sociology, Minor in Educational Psychology 1972

Professional Bio

Research Interests

My research focuses on two areas: (1) the integration of demographic, sociological and developmental perspectives onthe study of human lives, and (2) the social psychological study of human behavior. My work is guided primarily by the life course perspective on human attitudes and behavior that emphasizes the intersection of historical and biographical time.  My current research includes (among other things) work on the following topics: race and racism, cognitive processes and older age, socioeconomic inequality and health, parental child-rearing practices and children’s use of time, survey research methods and the assessment of survey data quality.

Current Research Projects

My current research includes several collaborative projects:  1) an NSF-funded project on archiving information on the quality of survey data, creating a publically-available data base on the reliability of survey measures; 2) a project, supported in part by grants from the NIA, on the social factors that shape processes of cognitive decline in older age; 3) a C2LS conference/book project on the integration of life course and social networks approaches to the study of lives; 4) a C2LS conference/book project on race and the life course; and 5) the study of social trends in public attitudes toward family issues, e.g. sex role attitudes, and attitudes toward same-sex marriage using data from the General Social Survey.

Research and Teaching Interests

Life Course & Aging, Human Development, Family, Social Stratification, Education, Social Psychology, Social Change, Research Methods, Quantitative Analysis.  He is currently completing three books, one on the quality of sample survey data entitled The Reliability of Survey Data, one on the impact of changes in the family over the past century on child-rearing orientations entitled The Disciplined Self: The Transformation of Parental Child-Rearing Values Over the Twentieth Century and one on the life course entitled The Life Course: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

Professional Awards and Achievements

  • Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award, Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association (2012)
  • Co-winner (with Lawrence F. Alwin), Alumnus of the Year Award, Holton High School, Holton, Kansas (2012)
  • Chair, Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association (2007-08)
  • Elected Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. (2003)
  • McCourtney Professorship, College of the Liberal Arts, Pennsylvania State University (2002)
  • List of Highly Cited Authors, Institute for Scientific Information (2002)
  • Excellence in Research Award, College of Literature, Science & the Arts, University of Michigan (1998)
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University and Social Statistics Research Unit, City University of London]; Fulbright Lectureship, Ostrava University, Czech Republic, supported by the Eccles Center of the British Library and the UK Fulbright Commission (1996)
  • Fulbright Research Award, United Kingdom (1995-96)
  • Co-recipient, Conference Grant, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Lake Como, Italy (1992)
  • Chair, Social Psychology Section, American Sociological Association (1992-93)
  • Co-recipient MOST (Minority Opportunity Summer Training) Program, University of Michigan, American Sociological Association (1991)
  • Vice-president for the Americas, Research Committee on Logic and Methodology, International Sociological Association (1990-94)
  • Guest Professor, Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA), Mannheim, Federal Republic of Germany (1987-1993)
  • Chair, GSS Board of Overseers (1985-89)
  • Elected, Sociological Research Association (1984)
  • Director, Summer Institute in Survey Research Techniques, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan (1983-1995)
  • Visiting Scientist, Laboratory of Socio-environmental Studies, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland (1975-76).

Research Grants

  • Archiving Information on the Quality of Survey Measurement. National Science Foundation (2013-15)
  • International Conference on the Future of Cognitive Aging Research. National Institute on Aging (2005-06)
  • Center on Population Health and Aging. National Institute on Aging (2004-09)
  • Aging and the Reliability of Measurement, National Institute on Aging (2003-06)
  • Latent Curve Models of Cognitive Aging, National Institute on Aging (2002-05, 2007-2011)
  • Socio-economic Status, Social Psychological Resources and Health, National Institute on Aging (2001-2003)
  • Socio-economic Factors, Aging and Cognitive Functioning, National Institute on Aging (1998-2000)
  • The Reliability of Survey Data, National Science Foundation (1997-1999)
  • The Stability of Individual Differences Across the Adult Life Span, National Institute on Aging (1998-2001)
  • Aging, Personality and Social Change, National Institute on Aging (1992-1995)
  • Aging and Errors and Measurement, National Institute on Aging (1992-1995)
  • Perceptions of Justice in East and West (David Mason and James Kluegel, co-investigators), National Science Foundation (1991-93)
  • The Changing Role of Religion in American Society, National Science Foundation (1987-1990)
  • Attitude Change and Stability over the Life-Span, National Institute on Aging (1987-1990)
  • Psychosocial Factors in Adaptation to Parenting, National Institute of Mental Health (1986-1989)
  • Political Orientations over the Life Span (co-investigators Ronald Cohen and Theodore Newcomb) (1984-1986)
  • Parental Approaches to Child-Rearing, National Institute of Mental Health (1983-85)
  • Social Support and Psychological Well-Being (co-investigators Angus Campbell and Philip Converse), National Institute on Aging (1981-1983)

Selected Publications

  • D.F. Alwin. 2014. [Special Issue, Editor] Investigating Response Errors in Surveys. Introduction to a Special Issue of Sociological Methods & Research. 43:3-14
  • D.F. Alwin, K.L. Zeiser & D. Gensimore. 2014. Reliability of Self-Reports of Financial Data in Surveys: Results from the Health and Retirement Study. Sociological Methods & Research 43:98-136.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2013. Reflections on Thirty Years of Methodology and the Next Thirty. Bulletin of Sociological Methodology 120:28-37.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2013. Who’s Talking About My Generation?  In M. Silverstein & R. Giarrusso (Eds.), Kinship and Cohort in an Aging Society—From Generation to Generation (pages 133-158). Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • D.F. Alwin & J. Pacheco. 2012. Population Trends in Verbal Intelligence in the United States. In. P.V. Marsden (Ed.), Social Trends in American Life: Findings from the General Social Survey since 1972 (pages 338-368).  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2012. Integrating Varieties of Life Course Concepts. “Symposium on the Life Course,” Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67B, 1-15.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2011. Demographic Transitions and Life Span Development. In K.L. Fingerman, C.A. Berg, J. Smith, & T.C. Antonucci (Eds.), Handbook of Life Span Psychology (pages 675-701). New York, NY: Springer Publishers.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2011. Evaluating the Reliability and Validity of Survey Interview Data using the MTMM Approach. In J. Madans, K. Miller, G. Willis and A. Maitland (Eds.), Question Evaluation Methods: Contributing to the Science of Data Quality (pages 265-293). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • D.F. Alwin & S.M. Hofer, Guest Editors [S.L. Willis, Review Editor]. 2011. Cognition, Health and AgingIntegrating Perspectives Across Disciplines. Supplement to The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, vol. 66.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2010. How Good is Survey Measurement? Assessing the Reliability and Validity of Survey Measures. In P.V. Marsden and J. Wright (Eds.), Handbook of Survey Research. 2nd edition (pages 405-434). London, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  • D.F. Alwin & J.L. Felson. 2010. Religion and Child-rearing.  In. R.A. Hummer and C.G. Ellison (Eds.), Religion, Families, and Health in the United States: New Directions in Population-based Research (pages 40-60). New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • R.F. Belli, F.P. Stafford & D.F. Alwin, editors. 2009. Calendar and Time Diary Methods in Life Course Research. SAGE Publications.
  • S.M. Hofer & D.F. Alwin, editors. 2008. Handbook of Cognitive Aging-- Interdisciplinary Perspectives. SAGE Publications.
  • D.F. Alwin. 2007. Margins of Error: A Study of Reliability in Survey Measurement. Published by John Wiley & Sons.
  • D.F. Alwin & R.J. McCammon.  2001.  Aging, Cohorts and Verbal Ability.  Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 56B:1-11.
  • D.F. Alwin, R.L. Cohen & T.M. Newcomb.  1991.  Political Attitudes Over the Life-Span:  The Bennington Women After Fifty Years.  Madison, WI:  The University of Wisconsin Press.
  • D.F. Alwin.  1991.  Family of Origin and Cohort Differences in Verbal Ability. American Sociological Review 56: 625-38.
  • D.F. Alwin.  1988.  From Obedience to Autonomy:  Changes in Traits Desired in Children, 1924-78. Public Opinion Quarterly 52: 33-52.
  • D.F. Alwin.  1987.  Distributive Justice and Satisfaction with Material Well-Being. American Sociological Review 52: 83-95.
  • D.F. Alwin & R. M. Hauser. 1975. The Decomposition of Effects in Path Analysis.  American Sociological Review 40: 37-47.  Reprinted in P.V. Marsden (Ed.), Pp. 123-140, Linear Models in Social Research. Beverly Hills:  SAGE Publications (1981).  Selected as a Citation Classic by the Institute for Scientific Information, Current Contents, 1985, 17:20.

Research Interests by Concentration

Health and Life Course

Life Course & Aging, Human Development, Family, Social Stratification, Education, Social Psychology, Social Change, Research Methods, Quantitative Analysis
Duane Alwin
(814) 863-0438
317 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower