About the Population Aging Research Center (PARC)

The Population Aging Research Center (PARC) was established in 1994 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging, which fosters research on the demography and economics of health and aging.

The Population Aging Research Center (PARC) was established in 1994 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging, which fosters research on the demography and economics of health and aging. PARC sponsors an annual pilot proposal competition, a weekly seminar series in conjunction with the Population Studies Center and an online working paper series accessible over the Internet.

The overall research themes of PARC reflect the interests and expertise of our research associates. These include:

  • Health, disease, and mortality risks at older ages, incorporating race and gender differences, including period and cohort risks and their underlying social and biological mechanisms;
  • Early-life conditions and older adult health, behavior, and well-being: an exploration of early developmental circumstances that may be crucial for shaping how we age, including nutrition, infectious disease, social support, education, and gene-environment interactions prenatally and during childhood.
  • Global aging: the sociocultural, economic, and environmental circumstances impacting the well-being of older individuals around the world; consequences on health and aging of lifestyle changes in rapidly transitioning developing countries.
  • Bio-demographic and evolutionary approaches to life history, including innovative analytic methodologies for collecting and analyzing metabolic, and genetic biomarkers of aging, evaluation of non-human animal models for explaining human aging patterns, and the use of evolutionary frameworks for re-interpreting data and generating new  hypotheses.
  • Domestic/international perspectives on well-being at older ages, emphasizing life-cycle decision-making and old-age financial security and their interactions with changing work patterns, family support, savings and pensions, health insurance, and health care systems.

Work in each of these areas can be located across dimensions of analytic methods (formal demography, causal analysis, quantitative methods); methods of data collection (surveys); strategies for incorporating temporal processes (life cycle, intergenerational, dynamic relations, historical demography); social and economic contexts (micro behaviors in social, cultural networks and in macro economic contests); including methods and applications of policy analysis and evaluations; and across and between geographic focus areas (comparative studies, developing countries, developed countries, international migration).

The research of PARC associates focuses on population and individual processes in the areas of aging, including both the determinants and the effects of population composition and population processes as well as:

  • Endowments: gender, race, ethnicity, biodemography, family background
  • Human Resources: education, health, labor, nutrition, illness, disability, experience
  • Time Use: labor force participation, occupation, home production, human capital investments, leisure
  • Wealth: various forms of financial and physical wealth and returns on those assets
  • Marriage, Family, Households: family and household structure, cohabitation and marital status

Aging research projects are underway in Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Finland, Guatemala, Korea, Malawi, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States. 

The Research Associates of PARC are highly productive. Since 1998, they have collectively published over 900 papers, 200 book chapters, 55 books, have been awarded over 300 peer-reviewed grants, and have written numerous working papers. PARC was originally built on the intellectual capital of the Population Studies Center, its administrative home. PARC has substantially broadened the scope and the diversity of its Associates. Over the last several years, the number of PARC Associates has increased from 8 to 56. PARC Associates hold appointments in four schools at Penn: Medicine, Wharton, Nursing, as well as Arts and Sciences (Demography, Economics, Anthropology, History, Psychology, and Sociology). PARC is affiliated with the Penn Alzheimer's Disease Center, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, the Institute on Aging, the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement, and the Pension Research Council. PARC Associates collaborate with researchers at other NIA Centers (Michigan, Wisconsin, and USC/UCLA), and with colleagues in North, South, and Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina), Asia (China), Africa (South Africa, Malawi), and Europe (Bulgaria, Finland). 

Secure Data Enclave

The PARC secure data enclave is a resource available to PARC affiliates working with sensitive aging-related data. We currently maintain a dual quad Microsoft Terminal Server configured behind a CITRIX gateway appliance. The system is modeled after the National Opinion Research Organization (NORC) secure enclave. The system takes advantage of CITRIX technology to create a secure virtual desktop environment that allows users to access data through a secure remote connection but restricts data from being copied, transferred, or printed. The server has the advantage of providing the user with a self-contained secure environment that includes access to SAS, STATA, and Microsoft Office as well as a variety of secure and non-secure data sets. PARC invites interested users to contact Jim Kane for additional information.

Data Resources

Associates are involved in large data collection projects, including the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS), the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), Salud, Bienestar y Envejecimiento/ Health, Wellbeing and Aging in Latin America (SABE), PROGRESA/Oportunidades (Programa de EducaciĆ³n, Salud y AlimentaciĆ³n / The Education, Health, and Nutrition Program of Mexico), NAS-NRC Twins Registry, Labor and Social Security Survey (Chile), Early Childhood Development Survey (Philippines) and Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE).

Consultations

PARC associates consult with the NIH; other federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (SSA) ; the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) and National Science Foundation (NSF) ; United States Department of Treasury and the Presidential Commission to Strengthen Social Security; and international organizations, including The International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank Group, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO),the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the governments of Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Japan, South Africa, and Bulgaria.