Florencia Torche. The early origins of disadvantage: Prenatal exposures and outcomes over the life course

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

The early origins of disadvantage: Long-lasting consequences of prenatal stress


Growing evidence suggests that the prenatal period is highly sensitive to the environment and that exposures before birth can have long-lasting consequences on individual development and wellbeing. However, capturing the causal effect of prenatal exposures is difficult because of unobserved selectivity.

Using natural experiments in different national settings, I study the effect of environmental stressors during the prenatal period on health, developmental and educational outcomes early in the life-cycle.  An important focus of the analysis is how the interaction between early exposures and family socioeconomic resources creates “trajectories of disadvantage”. Based on the evidence, I argue for the need to incorporate early exposures to the understanding of intergenerational inequality. 

Florencia Torche is Associate Professor of Sociology at NYU, and Affiliate Faculty at the Steinhardt School of Education and the Global Institute of Public Health at NYU. Her research examines inequality dynamics within and across generations including educational inequality, assortative mating, the intergenerational influence of wealth, and social mobility.  She is the author of many articles published in outlets such as the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology and the Annual Review of Sociology. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and Ford Foundation, among others.