Elizabeth Frankenberg’s research focuses on three thematic areas: the ways in which the health and social service environment shape the well-being of individuals, the ways that interactions among family members influence well-being, and how individuals respond to changes induced by unexpected events.
Frankenberg has exploited shocks – economic crises and natural disasters – to observe their influence on human capital and resource investments at the individual, household, and community level. Most recently, Frankenberg has examined the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami on psycho-social well-being, post-traumatic stress as a function of exposure to community trauma, and the impact of the orphanhood after the tsunami on children’s short- and longer-run well-being. Research is oriented toward better understanding responses by individuals and policy makers in the aftermath of shocks.
With collaborators, Frankenberg has directed several large-scale longitudinal surveys in Indonesia, including the Indonesian Family Life Survey and the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery, funded by grants from NIA and NICHD. These surveys integrate innovative measures in satellite imaging and biomarkers with more traditional modes of survey research.
The number of migrants to the United States from Africa has grown exponentially since the 1930s. For the first time in America's history, migrants born in Africa are growing at a faster rate than migrants from any other continent. The composition of African-origin migrants has also changed dramatically: in the mid-twentieth century, the majority were white and came from only three countries; but today, about one-fifth are white, and African-origin migrants hail from across the entire continent. Little is known about the implications of these changes for their labor market outcomes in the United States. Using the 2000-2011 waves of the American Community Survey, we present a picture of enormous heterogeneity in labor market participation, sectoral choice, and hourly earnings of male and female migrants by country of birth, race, age at arrival in the United States, and human capital. For example, controlling a rich set of human capital and demographic characteristics, some migrants-such as those from South Africa/Zimbabwe and Cape Verde, who typically enter on employment visas-earn substantial premiums relative to other African-origin migrants. These premiums are especially large among males who arrived after age 18. In contrast, other migrants-such as those from Sudan/Somalia, who arrived more recently, mostly as refugees-earn substantially less than migrants from other African countries. Understanding the mechanisms generating the heterogeneity in these outcomes-including levels of socioeconomic development, language, culture, and quality of education in countries of origin, as well as selectivity of those who migrate-figures prominently among important unresolved research questions.
Understanding how mortality and fertility are linked is essential to the study of population dynamics. We investigate the fertility response to an unanticipated mortality shock that resulted from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed large shares of the residents of some Indonesian communities but caused no deaths in neighboring communities. Using population-representative multilevel longitudinal data, we identify a behavioral fertility response to mortality exposure, both at the level of a couple and in the broader community. We observe a sustained fertility increase at the aggregate level following the tsunami, which was driven by two behavioral responses to mortality exposure. First, mothers who lost one or more children in the disaster were significantly more likely to bear additional children after the tsunami. This response explains about 13 % of the aggregate increase in fertility. Second, women without children before the tsunami initiated family-building earlier in communities where tsunami-related mortality rates were higher, indicating that the fertility of these women is an important route to rebuilding the population in the aftermath of a mortality shock. Such community-level effects have received little attention in demographic scholarship.
Identifying the impact of parental death on the well-being of children is complicated because parental death is likely to be correlated with other, unobserved factors that affect child well-being. Population-representative longitudinal data collected in Aceh, Indonesia, before and after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are used to identify the impact of parental deaths on the well-being of children aged 9-17 at the time of the tsunami. Exploiting the unanticipated nature of parental death resulting from the tsunami in combination with measuring well-being of the same children before and after the tsunami, models that include child fixed effects are estimated to isolate the causal effect of parental death. Comparisons are drawn between children who lost one or both parents and children whose parents survived. Shorter-term impacts on school attendance and time allocation one year after the tsunami are examined, as well as longer-term impacts on education trajectories and marriage. Shorter- and longer-term impacts are not the same. Five years after the tsunami, there are substantial deleterious impacts of the tsunami on older boys and girls, whereas the effects on younger children are more muted.
Understanding of human vulnerability to environmental change has advanced in recent years, but measuring vulnerability and interpreting mobility across many sites differentially affected by change remains a significant challenge. Drawing on longitudinal data collected on the same respondents who were living in coastal areas of Indonesia before the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and were re-interviewed after the tsunami, this paper illustrates how the combination of population-based survey methods, satellite imagery and multivariate statistical analyses has the potential to provide new insights into vulnerability, mobility and impacts of major disasters on population well-being. The data are used to map and analyze vulnerability to post-tsunami displacement across the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra and to compare patterns of migration after the tsunami between damaged areas and areas not directly affected by the tsunami. The comparison reveals that migration after a disaster is less selective overall than migration in other contexts. Gender and age, for example, are strong predictors of moving from undamaged areas but are not related to displacement in areas experiencing damage. In our analyses traditional predictors of vulnerability do not always operate in expected directions. Low levels of socioeconomic status and education were not predictive of moving after the tsunami, although for those who did move, they were predictive of displacement to a camp rather than a private home. This survey-based approach, though not without difficulties, is broadly applicable to many topics in human-environment research, and potentially opens the door to rigorous testing of new hypotheses in this literature.
On 26 December 2004, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the west coast of the northern Sumatra, Indonesia resulted in 160,000 Indonesians killed. We examine the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) nighttime light imagery brightness values for 307 communities in the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery (STAR), a household survey in Sumatra from 2004 to 2008. We examined night light time series between the annual brightness and extent of damage, economic metrics collected from STAR households and aggregated to the community level. There were significant changes in brightness values from 2004 to 2008 with a significant drop in brightness values in 2005 due to the tsunami and pre-tsunami nighttime light values returning in 2006 for all damage zones. There were significant relationships between the nighttime imagery brightness and per capita expenditures, and spending on energy and on food. Results suggest that Defense Meteorological Satellite Program nighttime light imagery can be used to capture the impacts and recovery from the tsunami and other natural disasters and estimate time series economic metrics at the community level in developing countries.