Sarah Patterson finishes post-doc

Sarah PattersonDr. Sarah Patterson joined the Sociology department as a post-doctoral fellow in September 2017, and has now completed her postdoc. She spent the past two years working with Dr. Rachel Margolis on the project: Care, Retirement and Well-being of Older People across Different Welfare Regimes. Dr. Patterson wrote the following reflections.

What are the most interesting findings in the research you did?

One of the most interesting findings from the research I did during my postdoc at Western includes illustrating the persistent gender gap between men and women in caregiving rates across the life course in multiple countries. This project with Dr. Rachel Margolis was really interesting to conduct because a lot of the literature focuses on particular age ranges, either young adulthood or older adults. Rachel and I wondered -- is there a gender gap in care rates if you look at the entire adult population? We found that generally, in most European countries, there is a gender gap in care rates across the life course, except at the oldest ages when men are more likely to be providing care for a family member. This work is important because it highlights the persistent gender gap in care rates, but also helps us have a baseline picture of care gaps across the life course so that we can later compare new rates to see if and how things are changing.

Do you have any publications as a result of your post-doc work?

My postdoc with Rachel was really fruitful! During my time at UWO, I published three papers (two are online now and one is forthcoming) and have multiple working papers. One publication includes the analysis I mentioned above and was published in Socius. My forthcoming piece will be in the Journal of Aging & Social Policy and was developed from my dissertation.


Forthcoming 2019, "Educational Attainment Differences in Attitudes toward Provisions of IADL Care for Older Adults in the U.S." Journal of Aging & Social Policy.

2019 "The Demography of Multigenerational Caregiving: A Critical Aspect of the Gendered Life Course" (with Rachel Margolis), Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.

2019 "Beyond Household Walls: The Spatial Structure of American Extended Kinship Networks" (with Jonathan Daw and Ashton M. Verdery) Mathematical Population Studies

Book Reviews

2019 "Book Review: Give Methods A Chance" Teaching Sociology 47(2):161-163.

2019 "Book Review: Analyzing Inequalities: An Introduction to Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality Using the General Social Survey" Teaching Sociology 47(1): 63–65.

Did you present at conferences too?

In terms of presentations, I was able to present my postdoc work to a variety of audiences. First, I was invited to speak in the department. I found that to be a great way to get to know the department and for folks to get to know me. I was also invited to speak at Bowling Green State University about my work with Rachel Margolis and Ashton Verdery on kinlessness and mortality at older ages. In addition, I was able to present at a conference in Europe and a few throughout the U.S.

Apr. 12, 2019 presented Patterson, Margolis, and Verdery, "Kinlessness and Mortality Risk: Higher Mortality for Those Lacking Close Kin in Older Age" in the Aging Alone and Well-being session of the Population Association of America 2019 Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas

2018 Patterson, Sarah E., & Margolis, Rachel, "Work and Caregiving for Older Family Members Across Europe" at the Work and Family Researchers Network 2018 Conference in Washington, D.C.

June 8, 2018 Patterson and Margolis, "Patterns of Multigenerational Caregiving across Europe" in the Intergenerational Relations session of the European Population Conference 2018, Brussels, Belgium.

Sept. 19, 2018 presented "Kinlessness and Mortality: Lacking Family in Older Age" in the Bowling Green State University Speaker Series, Bowling Green, OH.

Apr. 26, 2018 presented poster: Patterson and Margolis, "P2-22 Patterns of Multigenerational Caregiving Across Europe" in Session P2: Marriage, Families, Households, and Unions 1 at the Population Association of America 2018 Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Was there anything really unique about doing this research at Western? London? Canada?

I enjoyed my time at UWO for a variety of reasons. The faculty in the department were very welcoming, the staff were really helpful in getting me what I needed, and I enjoyed being able to interact with the grad students. I felt like a part of the community which can sometimes be difficult for postdocs who are not quite students but not quite faculty or staff. I enjoyed being able to see higher education from a Canadian view and understand how the systems are different and similar to the U.S. In addition, I enjoyed the small city feel of London. It reminded me a lot of Indianapolis, Indiana, where I am from. My favorite places in London included the market downtown and the downtown public library. I particularly enjoyed taking the walking/bike path through the park to get to campus – I can see why London is called Forest City! And in terms of Canada, I felt welcome overall and – I can’t lie - the healthcare was really great.

What will your future research be about?

I am currently a postdoc at the University of Michigan. Here, I will continue to publish manuscripts that I started during my UWO postdoc and continue to build work from my dissertation. In particular, I am interested in how family structure is associated with intergenerational relationships, specifically transfers of time and money. I will be moving deeper into caregiving research as well in order to understand the importance of families for older adults.


Follow Sarah's career news @spattersearch on Twitter and watch for her future articles on her Google Scholar page.