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Julia Behrman

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Area(s) of Interest

Family, Gender, Demography, Education, Health


Julia Behrman’s research explores the relationship between inequality in educational opportunity and demographic processes, with emphasis on fertility and family formation. Much of her work is motivated by a central question: How does family background shape educational opportunities, and in turn, how does education shape fertility, family formation, and the intergenerational transmission of inequality? Her work takes an international comparative perspective that focuses on contexts in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia undergoing rapid economic, social, and demographic change.

Behrman’s previous work has explored the implications of the mass expansion of education for fertility, family formation, and reproductive health in low-income high-fertility countries. More recent work explores different measures of women’s relative status (including employment, education, and assets), and investigates whether higher women’s status is associated with improved outcomes for women and their families or backlash. Another recent line of research investigates how displacement and migration processes influence fertility, reproductive health, and family formation.

Behrman’s research has received awards from American Sociological Association Sections on Education, Population, and Development; the Society for the Study of Social Problems; the Population Association of America; and the Sociologist AIDS Network. Her research has received funding form the South African Medical Research Council and the NYU Global Research Institute. She received her PhD from New York University in Sociology in 2017 and Masters Degrees from New York University and the London School of Economics. Prior to starting at Northwestern she was a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow in Sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

Courses Taught

Gender and Society; Research Design


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