Nancy Luke

Nancy Luke

Professor of Sociology and Demography

702 Oswald Tower
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-8867

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  2. MA, University of Pennsylvania, 1997
  3. MA, Johns Hopkins University, 1991
  4. BA, Miami University (Ohio), 1987


Research and Teaching Interest:

Social demography; gender, marriage, and family; sexual, reproductive, and child health; migration and remittances; Africa and South Asia


Dr. Luke is a social demographer whose research focuses on the role that social relationships—including gender, marriage, and family—play in shaping health and wellbeing in developing countries.  In particular, she studies the exchange of resources within familial relationships, including bargaining between spouses over the allocation of household resources in India and the exchange of psychosocial and economic support between migrant children and their families of origin in Kenya.  With respect to nonfamilial relationships, she examines the exchange of money and gifts within nonmarital sexual partnerships (often referred to as "transactional sex") in sub-Saharan Africa.  Dr. Luke's recent work concerns important health issues, such as sexual behavior and HIV risk, marital violence, son preference, and child nutrition.

Dr. Luke's research is interdisciplinary, incorporating theoretical and methodological insights from sociology, economics, anthropology, and public health.  She has designed and directed several large-scale surveys as well as conducted qualitative studies in Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam.  In support of her research, Dr. Luke has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the World Bank.  Dr. Luke's research appears in American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Population Studies, Population and Development Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, Demographic Research, Review of Economics and Statistics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Development Economics, and Studies in Family Planning among other journals and edited volumes.


Professional Awards and Achievements:

Consulting Editor, American Journal of Sociology, 2011-present

Visiting Scholar, Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green State University, 2012

National Institutes of Health Scientific Review Panel member, 2010, 2012, 2013

Associate Fellow, African Institute for Development Policy, 2010-present


Selected Publications:

*graduate student co‐author; **undergraduate student co‐author

*Orly Clerge, *Gabriela Sanchez‐Soto, *Jing Song, and Nancy Luke. Forthcoming. “’I would really like to go where you go': Rethinking Migration Decision‐making among Educated Tied Movers.” Population,Space and Place. Available online 6 October 2015.

Nancy Luke, Hongwei Xu, and Binitha V. Thampi. 2014. “Husbands’ Participation in Housework and Child Care in India.” Journal of Marriage and Family 76:620‐637.

*Jing Song and Nancy Luke. 2014. “Fairy Brides from Heaven: Mate Selection in Rural China, 1949‐2000.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 45(4):497‐515.

Hongwei Xu, Blessing Mberu, Rachel E. Goldberg, and Nancy Luke.  2013.  “Dimensions of Rural-to-Urban Migration and Premarital Pregnancy in Kenya.”  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 648:104-119.

Nancy Luke, Hongwei Xu, Blessing U. Mberu, and Rachel E. Goldberg.  2012.  “Migration Experience and Premarital Sexual Initiation in Urban Kenya:  An Event History Analysis.”  Studies in Family Planning 43(2):115-126.

Nancy Luke, Rachel E. Goldberg, Blessing U. Mberu, and Eliya M. Zulu.  2011.  “Social Exchange and Sexual Behavior in Young Women’s Premarital Relationships in Kenya.”  Journal of Marriage and Family 73(5):1048-1064.

Nancy Luke, Shelley Clark, and Eliya M. Zulu.  2011.  “The Relationship History Calendar:  Improving the Scope and Quality of Data on Youth Sexual Behavior.”  Demography 48(3):1151-1176.

Nancy Luke and Kaivan Munshi.  2011.  “Women as Agents of Change:  Female Income and Mobility in India.”  Journal of Development Economics 94(1):1-17.

Nancy Luke and Hongwei Xu.  2011.  “Exploring the Meaning of Context for Health:  Community Influences on Child Health in South India.”  Demographic Research 25(article 15):345-374.

Libby Abbott and Nancy Luke.  2011.  “Local Hierarchies and Distributor (Non)compliance:  A Case Study of Community-based Distribution in Rural North India.”  Health Care for Women International 32(3):225-242.

Alena Davidoff-Gore, Nancy Luke, and Salome Wawire.  2011.  “Dimensions of Poverty and Inconsistent Condom Use among Youth in Urban Kenya.”  AIDS Care 23(10):1282-1290.

Nancy Luke.  2010.  “Migrants’ Competing Commitments:  Sexual Partners in Urban Africa and Remittances to the Rural Origin.”  American Journal of Sociology 115(5):1435-1479.

Hongwei Xu, Nancy Luke, and Eliya M. Zulu.  2010.  “Concurrent Sexual Partnerships among Youth in Urban Kenya:  Prevalence and Partnership Effects.”  Population Studies 64(3):247-261.

Caroline Kabiru, Nancy Luke, Chimaraoke Izugbara, and Eliya M. Zulu.  2010.  “The Correlates of HIV Testing and Impacts on Sexual Behavior:  Evidence from a Life History Study of Young People in Kisumu, Kenya.”   BMC Public Health 10:412-423.

Nadia Diamond-Smith, Nancy Luke, and Stephen McGarvey.  2008.  “’Too many girls, too much dowry’:  Son Preference and Daughter Aversion in Rural Tamil Nadu, India.”  Culture, Health and Sexuality 10(7):697-708.

Nancy Luke.  2008.  “Economic Status, Informal Exchange, and Sexual Risk in Kisumu, Kenya.”  Economic Development and Cultural Change 56(2):375-396.

Nancy Luke and Kaivan Munshi.  2007.  “Social Affiliation and the Demand for Health Services:  Caste and Child Health in South India.”  Journal of Development Economics 83(2):256-279.

Nancy Luke, Sidney Ruth Schuler, Bui Thi Thanh Mai, Pham Vu Thien, and Tran Hung Minh.  2007.  “Exploring Couple Attributes and Attitudes and Marital Violence in Vietnam.”  Violence Against Women 13(1):5-27.

Nancy Luke and Kaivan Munshi.  2006.  “New Roles for Marriage in Urban Africa:  Kinship Networks and the Labor Market in Kenya.”  Review of Economics and Statistics 88(2):264-282.

Nancy Luke.  2006.  “Exchange and Condom Use in Informal Sexual Relationships in Urban Kenya.”  Economic Development and Cultural Change 54(2):319-348.

Nancy Luke.  2006.  “Local Meanings and Census Categories:  Widow Inheritance and the Position of Luo Widows in Kenya.”  In Etienne van de Walle, ed.  African Households:  Censuses and Surveys.  Armonk, NY:  M.E. Sharpe, Inc., pp. 208-228.

Nancy Luke.  2005.  “Confronting the ‘Sugar Daddy’ Stereotype:  Age and Economic Asymmetries and Risky Sexual Behavior in Urban Kenya.”  International Family Planning Perspectives 31(1):6-14.

Nancy Luke.  2005.  “Investigating Exchange in Sexual Relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa using Survey Data.”  In Shireen J. Jejeebhoy, Iqbal Shah, and Shyam Thapa, eds.  Sex without Consent:  Young People in Developing Countries.  London:  Zed Books, pp. 105-124.

Nancy Luke, Kaivan Munshi, and Mark Rosenzweig.  2004.  “Marriage, Networks and Jobs in Third World Cities.”  Journal of the European Economic Association 2(2-3):437-446.

Nancy Luke.  2003.  “Age and Economic Asymmetries in the Sexual Relationships of Adolescent Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa.”  Studies in Family Planning 34(2):67-86.

Nancy Luke and Susan Cotts Watkins.  2002.  “Reactions of Developing Country Elites to International Population Policy.”  Population and Development Review 28(4):707-733.

Nancy Luke, Ina Warriner, and Susan Cotts Watkins.  2001.  “’Rariu Doesn’t Rhyme with Western Medicine’:  Lay Beliefs and Illness Networks in Kenya.”  In C. Makhlouf Obermeyer, ed.  Cultural Perspectives on Reproductive Health.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, pp. 58-82.

Karen Hardee, Kokila Agarwal, Nancy Luke, Ellen Wilson, Margaret Pendzich, Marguerite Farrell, and Harry Cross.  1999.  “Post-Cairo Reproductive Health Policies:  A Comparative Study of Eight Countries.”  International Family Planning Perspectives 25(Suppl.):S2-S9.

Research Interests:

Social demography; gender, marriage, and family; sexual, reproductive, and child health; migration and remittances; Africa and South Asia

Research Interests:

Family and Relationships:

marriage, spousal bargaining, developing countries


Social demography; gender, marriage, and family; sexual, reproductive, and child health; migration and remittances; Africa and South Asia

Social Inequality:

gender, remittances, developing countries

Health and Life Course:

sexual behavior, child nutrition, developing countries