Susan Cotts Watkins

Visiting Research Scientist, CCPR
Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Ph. D., Princeton University
(Demography; Historical and Comparative Sociology, Social Change and Modernization)

Contact Information

Phone: 310-206-7566
E-mail: SWatkins@ccpr.ucla.edu

Office: 4335F Public Affairs Bldg.

Mailing Address:

California Center for Population Research
4284 Public Affairs Bldg
PO Box 957236
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7236

Fax: 310-825-8762


My work has focused on large-scale demographic and social change, specifically 1) fertility transitions in historical Europe and the U.S. and in contemporary Africa; 2) the AIDS epidemic in Africa; 3) the role of social networks in these changes . In pursuing these interests, I and colleagues organized two longitudinal survey projects, one in Kenya (Kenya.pop.upenn.edu) and more recently a larger project in Malawi (www.malawi.pop.upenn.edu).
Currently, Ann Swidler and I are writing a book, Altruism From Afar, on efforts of altruists deep-pocket donors and individual volunteers from foreign countries to turn the tide of the HIV epidemic in Malawi and to postpone the deaths of those who are HIV positive. Rather than pointing out the failures of the AIDS industry or praising the efforts of individual altruists, we write about altruism on the ground: an intersection of the dreams of three sets of actors: donors who provide the money, villagers who expected to benefit, and brokers, the Malawian elites who act as intermediaries connecting donors and villagers. A second, and smaller, activity is a journal club I established for graduate students interested in global issues, including health priorities.


* AIDS Exceptionalism: Another Constituency Heard From. 2013. AIDS and Behavior 17 (3): 825-831 (with Kim Dionne and Patrick Gerland).
* Outsourcing Social Transformation: Development NGOs as Organizations. 2012. Annual Review of Sociology 38 (285-315) (with Ann Swidler and Thomas Hannan)

* Working Misunderstandings: Donors, Brokers and Villagers in Africa s AIDS Industry. 2012. Population and Development Review 38 (Supp):197-218 (with Ann Swidler)
* AIDS Exceptionalism: Another Constituency Heard From. Forthcoming 2011. AIDS and Behavior (with Kim Dionne and Patrick Gerland).

* Back to Basics: Gender, Social Norms, and the AIDS Epidemic in Africa. 2011. In The
Socioeconomic Dimensions of HIV/AIDS in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and
Misconceptions, ed. David E. Sahn, Cornell University Press, pp. 134-162.

*Kaler, Amy and Susan C. Watkins. 2010. Asking God About the Date You Will Die: HIV Testing as a Zone of Uncertainty in Rural Malawi. Demographic Research, www.demographicresearch.org.

* Polygyny and the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: a case of benign concurrency. AIDS (25): 1- 9 (with Georges Reniers)

* Hearsay Ethnography: A Method for Learning About Responses to Health Interventions. 2011 . In The Handbook of the Sociology of Health, Illness, & Healing, eds. Bernice Pescosolido, Jan McLeod, Jack Martin and Anne Rogers. Springer. (with A. Swidler and C.Biruk)

* Teach a Man to Fish : The Doctrine of Sustainability and its Effects on Three Strata of
Malawian Society. 2009. World Development. (with A. Swidler) PMCID: PMC2791326

* Hearsay Ethnography: Conversational Journals as a Method for Studying Culture in Action. 2009. Poetics 37 (2): 162-184 (with A.Swidler). PMCID: PMC2791322.

* The Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project 2004-06: Data Collection, Data Quality, and Analysis of Attrition Demographic Research, 20(21) 503-540. Published online May5, 2009 (with P. Anglewicz, Adams, J., F. Onyango, H.P. Kohler): PMCID: PMC2818604.http://www.demographic-research.org/Volumes/Vol20/21/default.htm

* Sexual and Marital Trajectories and HIV Infection Among Women in Rural Malawi, 2001-2004. 2009. Sexually Transmitted Infections 85:i27-i33. (with C.Boileau, S. Clark, M. Poulin, S. Bignami-Van Assch, G. Reniers, H-P Kohler, and J. Heymann)

Lessons from Empirical Network Analysis on Matters of Life and Death in East Africa. 2009. In Network-based Strategies and Competencies, eds. Paul R. Kleindorfer and Yoram Wind. Wharton 5 School Publishing, Upper Saddle River, NJ, pp. 495-512 (with J.R. Behrman and H.P. Kohler).

* Acceptance of Repeat Population-based Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV in Rural Malawi. 2008. Sexually Transmitted Infections. Published online 16 Oct 2008;
doi:10.1136/sti.2008.030320.(with F. Onyango, P. Fleming, P. Anglewicz, R. Thornton, F.
Martinson, S.Watkins and H-P. Kohler),

* Ties of Dependence: AIDS and Transactional Sex in Rural Malawi. 2007. Studies in Family Planning 38 (3): 147-162 (with A. Swidler).

*”Social Networks and HIV/AIDS Risk Perceptions”. 2007. Demography 44(1):1-33 (with H.P. Kohler and J.R. Behrman)

* Sex in Geneva, Sex in Lilongwe, Sex in Balaka. 2007. Social Science & Medicine
64(5):1090-1101 (with Linda Tawfik).

* Sex without Birth or Death: A Comparison of Two International Humanitarian
Movements. 2006. In Social Information Transmission and Human Biology, eds. J.Wells, S.
Strickland, & K.Laland, pp. 205-221.

* The Key Lesson of Family Planning Programmes For HIV/AIDS Control. 2006. AIDS 20:1-3 (with John Cleland).

* Sex in Geneva, Sex in Lilongwe, Sex in Balaka. Forthcoming. Social Science & Medicine (with Linda Tawfik).

* The Evolution of Population Policies in Kenya and Malawi. 2005. Population Research and Policy Review 24 (1): 83-104, (with Eliya Zulu and Chiweni Chimbwete).

* Perceptions of Risk and Strategies for Prevention: Responses to HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi. 2005. Social Science and Medicine 60: 649-660 (with Kirsten Smith).

* Navigating the AIDS Epidemic in Rural Malawi. 2004. Population and Development Review 30(4): 603-705.

* Repentance and Hope among Christians and Muslims in Rural Malawi . 2004. Religion in Malawi 11 (1-13) (with Chiweni Chimbwete).

* Giving Care to People with Symptoms of AIDS in Rural Malawi. 2004.AIDSCARE 16 (7): 795-807 (with Angela Chimwaza).

* Assessing the Potential for Condoms to Prevent the Spread of HIV: A Case Study from Rural Malawi . 2004 . Studies in Family Planning 35(1): 48-64 (with Michael Bracher and Gigi Santow).

Cultural Change, Fertility Transitions. 2004. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. UK: Elsevier.

*Social Interactions and HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi (Ed). 2003. Demographic Research (www.demographic-research.org, Special Collection #1) (with Eliya Zulu, Hans-Peter Kohler and Jere Behrman)

* How Do We Know We Need to Control for Selectivity? . 2003. Demographic Research (www.demographic-research.org, Special Collection #1) (with Ina Warriner).

* Moving and Marrying: HIV Infection Among Newly-weds in Malawi. 2003. Demographic Research (www.demographic-research.org, Special Collection #1) (with Michael Bracher and Gigi Santow).

* AIDS and Older Persons: An International Perspective. 2003. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome 33:S153-S165 (with John Knodel and Mark VanLandingham).

Social Networks. 2003. Encyclopedia of Population, Revised Edition, V. II, Eds. Paul Demeny and Geoffrey McNicoll, pp.909-10. New York: Macmillan Reference.

* Reactions of Developing Country Elites to International Population Policy. 2002. Population and Development Review 28(4): 707-733 (with Nancy Luke).

* Social Networks and Changes in Contraceptive Use over Time: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study in Rural Kenya. 2002. Demography 39(4): 713-737 (with Jere Behrman and Hans-Peter Kohler).

* Disobedient Distributors: Street-Level Bureaucrats and Would-Be Patrons in Community-Based Family Planning Programs in Rural Kenya. 2001. Studies in Family Planning 32(3): 254-269 (with Amy Kaler).

* Husband-Wife Survey Responses in Malawi. 2001. Studies in Family Planning 32(2): 161-174. (with Kate Miller and Eliya M. Zulu).

Density of Social Networks and Family Planning Decisions: Evidence from South Nyanza District, Kenya. 2001. Demography 38(1): 43-58 (with Hans-Peter Kohler and Jere Behrman).

* Accuracy, Stability and Reciprocity in Informal Conversational Networks in Rural Kenya. 2000. Social Networks 22: 337-355 (with Kevin White).

* Local and Foreign Models of Reproduction in Nyanza Province, Kenya, 1930-1998. 2000. Population and Development Review 26(4): 725-759.

* Empirical Assessments of Social Networks, Fertility and Family Planning Programs: Nonlinearities and their Implications. 2000. Demographic Research [Online] 1. Available http://www.demographic‑research.org/volumes/vol3 (With Jere R. Behrman and Hans-Peter Kohler).

Gender and Population. 2000. In Gender and Society: The Herbert Spencer Lectures, Colin Blakemore and Susan Iversen, eds., pp. 13-53. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

*The Buzz Outside the Clinics: Conversation and Contraception in Nyanza Province, Kenya. 1997. Studies in Family Planning 28(4): 290-307 (with Naomi Rutenberg).

Orderly Theories, Disorderly Women. 1997. The Continuing Demographic Transition, edited by G.W. Jones, R.M. Douglas, J.C. Caldwell and R.M. D=Souza, pp. 213-245 (with Naomi Rutenberg and David Wilkinson). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

* Feminists and Neo-Malthusians: Past and Present Alliances. 1997. Population and Development Review 23(3): 469-523 (with Dennis Hodgson).

* Social Interactions and Contemporary Fertility Transitions. 1996. Population and Development Review 22(4): 639-682 (with John Bongaarts).

Social Science and Social Science History. 1995. Presidential address, Social Science History 19(3): 295-311.

*After Ellis Island: Newcomers and Natives in the 1910 Census. Editor.1994. Russell Sage. Author of Preface , “Introduction” and Background: The 1910 Census”; coauthor of “Generating Americans (with S. Philip Morgan and Douglas Ewbank), and tabular appendix (with Arodys Robles).

* Personal Names and Cultural Change: A Study of the Naming Patterns of Italians and Jews in the U.S. in 1910. 1994. Social Science History 18(2):169-209 (with Andrew S. London).

* Childhood Healthcare Practices among Italians and Jews in the United States, 1910-1940. 1994. Health Transition Review 4(1):45-62 (with Alice Goldstein and Ann Spector).

* Cultural and Economic Approaches to Fertility: Proper Marriage or M salliance? 1993. Population and Development Review 19(3): 467-496 (with Robert Pollak).

* If All We Knew About Women Was What We Read in Demography, What Would We K ow? 1993. Demography 30(4):551-577.

*From Provinces Into Nations: The Demographic Integration of Western Europe, 1870‑1960. 1991. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press.

* From Local to National Communities: The Transformation of Demographic Regimes in Western Europe, 1870-1960. 1990. Population and Development Review 16(1): 241-272.

Volumes, chapters and articles
* = refereed publication


NIH/NICHD: Consequences of High Morbidity and Mortality in a Low Income Country,
Co-PI, 4/01/07-3/31/12, R01-HD053781A

NIH/NICHD: Religious Organizations, Local Norms, and HIV in Africa P.I. 4/01/05-3/31/08, RO1-HD050142-01

NIH/NICHD: Gender, Conversational Networks and Dealing with STDs, P.I. 1/01/2002-12/31/2006, RO1-HD41713

NIH/NICHD: Social Interactions and Reproductive Health, P.I. 9/30/00-7/31/02, RO1-HD372-276

NIH/ORA: University of Pennsylvania Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), P.I. 7/1/99‑6/30/00

NIH/NIA: Supplement to the Center on the Demography of Aging, AMicrosimulation of HIV Transmission Across the Life Cycle in sub‑Saharan Africa”, P.I. 8/1/02‑6/30/04, AG12836-S3.

NIH/NIA: University of Pennsylvania Center on the Demography of Aging (PARC), P.I. 7/1/99-6/30/00

Rockefeller Foundation: Diffusion and Ideational Change, P.I. 1994-1998

Rockefeller Foundation: Ideational Transformation Across International, National, and Local Levels (for Amy Kaler), 7/1/98‑6/30/00

Mellon Foundation: Fellowship in Anthropological Demography (for Mike Mtika), 8/1/00-7/31/01

Mellon Foundation: Fellowship in Anthropological Demography (for Pamela Feldman-Savalsberg), 8/1/00‑7/31/01

Transnational Cooperation Foundation, Government of Germany: Co-P.I. Fertility and Social Networks, 6/1/99-5/31/2001

Research Foundation, University of Pennsylvania: Reproductive Health in Malawi, P.I. 1999

Mellon Fellowship in Anthropology and Demography for academic leave 1994-95.

Carolina Population Center/USAID Evaluation Project, P.I. grant to study the impact of informal networks on the impact of family planning programs, 1992

Mellon Foundation, grants to study fertility change in Africa, 1990, 1991, 1992

Rockefeller Foundation, grant to study value change and the fertility transition, 1992-93

National Institutes of Health Traineeship in Demography, Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 1975‑77.


John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship 2009

Irene Taeuber Award for exceptionally sound and innovative research, Population Association of America, 2005

Steering Committee, Mellon Foundation Southern African HIV/AIDS Node, 2001–

Gifford Distinguished Scholar Lecture, University of California-Davis, 1999

Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford University, 1995

Sociological Research Association, Elected Member 1994.

First Annual Otis Dudley Duncan Award for distinguished scholarship in social demography, awarded by the Sociology of Population Section of the American Sociological Association, for From Provinces to Nations, 1992.

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, award for research leave 1992-93.

Hewlett Foundation Graduate Training Grant, 1992-1997, $750,000.

American Council of Learned Societies, award for research leave 1988-89.

Research Foundation awards, University of Pennsylvania, 1989, 1991.

Visiting Fellow, Australia Family Project, Australian National University, June-August 1988.

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. 1984-85.

Visiting Fellow, Research School of the Social Sciences, Australian National University, August‑ September 1984.

Yale Junior Faculty Fellowship, awarded for academic leave, 1981‑82.

Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, highest honor of the Graduate School of Princeton University, 1978‑79.


(Completed Ph.D.’s Supervised — University of Pennsylvania)
Anglewicz, Philip. Overestimating HIV Infection: The Construction and Accuracy of Subjective Probabilities of HIV Infection in Rural Malawi.

Bignami, Simona, Philip Anglewicz, Peter Fleming, Ari Van Assche and Catherine Van de Ruit. The Impact of HIV Morbidity and AIDS-Related Mortality on Intra-Household Time Allocation in Rural Malawi.

Fleming, Peter and Alex A. Weinreb. HIV Prevalence and Orphan Household Distribution in a Rural Malawi District.

Helleringer, Stephane and Hans-Peter Kohler. The Structure of Sexual Networks and the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi.

Obare, Francis. The Effect of Non-Response on Population-Based HIV Prevalence Estimates: The Case of Rural Malawi.

Poulin, Michelle. Crossing the Marriage Threshold in a High HIV Setting.

Regnerus, Mark and Viviana Salinas. Religious Affiliation, Ethnicity, and AIDS-Related Discrimination in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Regnerus, Mark and Jenny Trinitapoli. Village Sexual Norms and Links between Religion and HIV Infection Risk in Rural Malawi.

Thornton, Rebecca. The Demand for and Impact of Learning HIV Results .

Trinitapoli, Jenny. Religion and HIV Status in Sub-Saharan Africa: Examining Influence and Pathways.