2016/2017 QMeHSS Workshop (11/4/2016)

The November 4th, 2016 Workshop on Quantitative Methods in Education, Health, and the Social Sciences (QMeHSS) will take place from 10:30am - 12:00pm in Stuart Hall Room 101. Tyler VanderWeele from Harvard University will be leading this workshop. We hope to see you there. Stuart Hall is located at 5838 S. Greenwood Ave.

On the causal interpretation of race in regressions adjusting for confounding and mediating variables​

Tyler VanderWeele

Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard University 



We consider several possible interpretations of the “effect of race” when regressions are run with race as an exposure variable, controlling also for various confounding and mediating variables. When adjustment is made for socioeconomic status early in a person’s life, we discuss under what contexts the regression coefficients for race can be interpreted as corresponding to the extent to which a racial inequality would remain if various socioeconomic distributions early in life across racial groups could be equalized. When adjustment is also made for an adult socioeconomic status variable, we note how the overall racial inequality can be decomposed into the portion that would be eliminated by equalizing adult socioeconomic status across racial groups and the portion of the inequality that would remain even if adult socioeconomic status across racial groups were equalized. We give further new results on estimates of how much of a disparity would be eliminated by equalizing an adult socioeconomic status variables if the distributions early in life are left unchanged. This final quantity does not correspond to output from any of the standard regression adjustments in the literature. The various results are illustrated by data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.


About Tyler VanderWeele

Empirical Research –
His empirical research has been in the areas of perinatal, psychiatric and social epidemiology; various fields within the social sciences; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. In perinatal epidemiology, he has worked on evaluating prenatal care indices, on the analysis of trends in birth outcomes, and on assessing the role of preterm birth in mediating the effects of prenatal exposures on mortality outcomes. In social epidemiology, he has studied the role of education and adverse childhood socio-economic conditions in explaining health disparities. In psychiatric epidemiology, Professor VanderWeele has studied the feedback and inter-relationships between depression, loneliness and subjective well-being, and also systems for more personalized depression treatment. His work in the social sciences has included the study of educational interventions, micro-finance programs, social network effects, and judicial decisions. His work in religion and health is oriented towards assessing the mechanisms by which religion and spirituality affect health outcomes.

Methodology – His methodologic research concerns how we distinguish between association and causation in the biomedical and social sciences and the study of the mechanisms by which causal effects arise.  The current focus of my work includes the analysis of pathways, assessments of interaction, and the evaluation of network and spillover effects in which one person’s exposure will affect the outcomes of another.  His research employs counterfactual theory and ideas from causal inference to clarify and formalize concepts used by epidemiologists, biomedical researchers, and social scientists.