Lisa Bates

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health

Epidemiology Advisor, Millenium Villages Project, Earth Institute


Past Research: Professor Bates has conducted research related to multiple proposed themes of the CPRC, including gender, social determinants of health, immigration, and reproductive health. In the mid-1990s she began mixed-methods research in rural Bangladesh on the intersections of poverty, gender inequality, and reproductive health, and on local responses to national population programs and policies designed to induce both normative and behavioral change. Bates and colleagues documented how gender and class-related attitudes and expectations shaped by the previous top-down population program persisted and impeded successful adoption of new strategies meant to improve attention to human rights, quality of care, and program sustainability (Bates et al. 2001 - 2003). This ethnographic research also highlighted the malleability of gender norms in the face of both economic imperatives and the perceived necessity of accessing health and family planning services. Bates’ subsequent research in Bangladesh explored more broadly how social interventions targeted at women, such as micro-credit and education, shape their opportunities, their health, and the health of their children.

Present Research: Bates extended her interests in cultural and social influences on health to a U.S. context, specifically on immigrant health. Her research has focused on socioeconomic and cultural dimensions of immigrant adaptation and health, subgroup differences in the effects of immigration on health, and critical perspectives on acculturation. A forthcoming paper in AJPH shows sizeable changes in both the prevalence of obesity and the population distribution of BMI with generation status among Latinos and Asian Americans. More recently she has begun examining “1.5” and second generation immigrants, looking at the impact of the timing of immigration vis-à-vis critical developmental periods, the role of multiple geographic and social contexts, and the salience of race and identity in immigrant adaptation and health. This research has identified immigrant-related differences in low birth-weight of age by length of residence in the U.S. (Bates et al., forthcoming), as well as the identification of birth-weight differences among Latinos in distinctive residential enclaves. Bates is a founding member of the newly-created Cross-National Initiative on Place, Migration, and Health (CIPMH), a network of researchers in the U.S. and elsewhere committed to understanding the links between migration processes and the health of (im)migrants, their families, and their sending and receiving communities using a cross-national lens for research and policy. Bates’ research on the changing socio-cultural and economic determinants of women’s health in Bangladesh is also ongoing, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment and the mediating role of marriage. Based on survey data she collected in 2002, she found a positive inter-generational impact of women’s education on the timing of marriage and childbearing initiation (Bates, 2007). Current analyses using these data are looking at changes in health and development and their correlates with women’s empowerment; based on these analyses, Bates obtained an NIH grant to study women’s empowerment and the influences on health across generations.

Future Research: Bates’ upcoming work will include qualitative data collection among Latino immigrants in New York, exploring issues of racial/ethnic identity, experiences of discrimination, and expectations for social mobility, as well as the development of cross-national comparative studies between Mexico and the U.S. She also will be pursuing new research on how other drivers of social and economic change in Bangladesh (e.g., employment in the garment industry, rural-urban migration) influence marriage formation strategies, gender dynamics, and sexual and reproductive health.

Professor Bate's Departmental Biography Page

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