Melissa A. Hardy

Melissa A. Hardy

Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Demography

502 Oswald Tower
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 867-4337

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. B.A., Sociology, Albright College
  2. M.A., Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
  3. Ph.D. Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


Research Interests

My work addresses life course processes and outcomes and the ways in which institutional factors structure personal pathways.  One focus of my research examines cohort differences in behaviors and attitudes, with an emphasis on how public policy intersects with dimensions of inequality, such as gender, race, ethnicity, and age.

I also study patterns of attitudes and beliefs across different groups and across time as elements of social change. 

Research Projects

My current projects use longitudinal data to examine cohort and generational patterns of socioeconomic status, health, and attitudes across the life course. 

One project addresses how the retirement experiences of successive birth cohorts have diversified, retirement is being reconfigured, and various aspects of inequality are evidenced in later-life well-being. 

A second project looks at how our sense of agency is stratified and whether disparities are reflected in goal setting and goal achievement as well as the stratification of later life outcomes.  

Research and Teaching Interests

Life Course; Aging; Public Policy; Inequality; Gender; Quantitative Methodology

Ongoing Projects

Longitudinal studies of race and gender inequality, late career transitions, health, and the life course;

Selected Publications

Caputo, Jennifer, Eliza Pavalko, and Melissa Hardy (2020).  Midlife Work and Women's Long-Term Health and Mortality.  Demography.,1007/s13524-019-00839-6.

Hardy, Melissa, Vegard Skirbekk, and Marcin Stonawski. (2020).  The Religiously Unaffiliated in Germany 1949-2013:  Contrasting Patterns of Social Change in East and West.  The Sociological Quarterly, DOI:10.1080/00380254.2019.1593064.

          Wolfe, J.D., Shawn Bauldry, Melissa Hardy, and Eliza Pavalko.  (2018).  Multigenerational attainments and mortality among older men: an adjacent generations approach.  Demographic Research, 39:719-752.

          Wolfe, J.D., Shawn Bauldry, Melissa Hardy, and Eliza Pavalko.  (2018).  Multigenerational attainments, race, and mortality risk among silent generation women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 59(3): 335-351.

          Skirbekk, Vegard, Melissa Hardy, and Bjorn Heine Strand. (2018).  Women’s spousal choices and a man’s handshake: evidence from a Norwegian study of cohort differences.  Social Science Medicine: Population Health.  5: 1-7.

          Reyes, Adriana and Melissa Hardy. (2018). Race differences in linking family formation transitions to women’s mortality. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 59(2): 231-247.

          Acciai, Francesco and Melissa Hardy. (2017). Depression in Later Life: A Closer Look at the Gender Gap.  Social Science Research 68: 163-75.

          Caputo, J., Eliza Pavalko, and Melissa Hardy.  (2016). The Long-Term Health Effects of Caregiving on Women’s Health and Mortality. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78(5): 1382-1398.

          Hardy, Melissa and Adriana Reyes. (2016).  “Theories of work and retirement:  Culture, Trust and the Social Contract.” In Handbook of Theories of Aging (3rd ed), edited by Vern Bengtson and Richard Settersten. New York: Springer.

          Hardy, Melissa. (2016). “Societal Legacies of Risk and Protection in the Reproduction of Health Disparities.”  Public Policy and Aging Report

          Reyes, Adriana and Melissa Hardy (2015). “Older Immigrants and Health Insurance in the U.S.: Differences by Region-of-Origin in Gaining and Losing Coverage.”  Journal of Gerontology:  Social Sciences, 70(2):303-13.

          Hardy, Melissa, Francecso Acciai, and Adriana M. Reyes. (2014) "How Health Conditions Translate into Self-Ratings:  A Comparative Study of Older Adults Across Europe."  Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 55(3): 320-341.

          Research Interests:

          Family and Relationships:

          generational family structure


          Aging, labor force and older workers, retirement economics

          intergenerational mobility, economic inequality, pensions 

          Quantitative Methods:

          Statistical distributions, analysis of discrete and continuous data

          attitudes and beliefs, cohorts and social change, social policy

          Health and Life Course:

          health & aging, health disparities, mortality, chronic illness