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Jess M. Meyer (Ph.D. 2019)

Area(s) of Interest

Health & Social Epidemiology, Sociology of Family, Medical Sociology, Gender, Social Inequality, Work & Occupations, Quantitative Methods

Dissertation Title:

(Not) Working to Sleep: Employment's Contribution to Gender and Socioeconomic Sleep Differences


The central question motivating my work is: How do social inequality, gendered family dynamics, and health affect one another across the life course?

My dissertation investigates how socioeconomic status and gendered expectations within families contribute to social differences in sleep. I also examine the role of employment (and employment policy) in generating such differences. I analyze time diaries from national and international datasets to study variation in sleep duration, interruption, and timing. One dissertation study finds that educational differences in sleep duration vary by age, and certain decreases in educational sleep duration differences at older ages might be related to retirement. Another dissertation analysis examines how gender differences in sleep among parents of young children changed after the introduction of a paternity leave policy. Findings indicate that macro-level social policy has both potential and limitations in its ability to affect social differences in sleep. An additional dissertation study explores gender differences in the determinants of wake time, building theory related to who and what sets the pace of family life.

In other research, I examine with an interdisciplinary team how socioeconomic status and parental absence in early childhood associate with future DNA methylation, demonstrating a potential pathway through which early social inequalities shape future health outcomes. A separate collaborative project analyzes gender and marital status differences in how health problems and behaviors predict romantic union dissolution, exploring a possible mechanism through which health disparities affect family structure and social inequality.


Jess M. Meyer and Christine Percheski. 2017. “Health Behaviors and Union Dissolution among Parents of Young Children: Differences by Marital Status.” PLoS ONE12(8):e0182628. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0182628.

McDade, Thomas W., Calen Ryan, Meaghan J. Jones, Julia L. MacIsaac, Alexander M. Morin, Jess M. Meyer, Judith B. Borja, Gregory E. Miller, Michael S. Kobor, and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2017. “Social and Physical Environments Early in Development Predict DNA Methylation of Inflammatory Genes in Young Adulthood.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(29):7611-7616. doi:10.1073/pnas.1620661114.

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