02 December 2013

Tip Sheet for Journalists: Latest findings from IIASA population researchers

New findings from IIASA demography experts: The economic crisis led to increased smoking in the USA; and societies’ stereotypes of older people.

© Alexander Babich | Dreamstime.com

© Alexander Babich | Dreamstime.com

Rise in smoking tied to increased unemployment

The number of smokers in the US has risen by approximately 600,000 since 2008, likely because of the rise in unemployment, according to a new study led by IIASA Population program researcher Raya Muttarak. The new research, published in the journal Tobacco Control, upturns a tenet of social science known as “healthy living in hard times.” Previous research had shown that during economic downturns, rates of unhealthy behavior such as smoking and exercising too little had tended to decrease. The thought was that when unemployed, people might have more time to devote to physical activity. Muttarak says, “This time it is different. The magnitude of the crisis has substantially changed the share of those with and without a job, with the latter being much more likely to engage in risky health behaviors.”

Working & volunteering influences stereotypes of old age

Perceptions of older people in different countries vary depending on how much older people work and volunteer, shows a new study from IIASA researchers Catherine Bowen and Vegard Skirbekk. The study examined perceptions of older people’s competence based on the 2008 European Social Survey, which covered 28 countries. It showed that older people were viewed as more competent in countries where a greater proportion of older people either worked or volunteered. “Our study shows that the opportunities that older people have for participating in a society really matter,” says Bowen.

  • Contact: Catherine E. Bowen, +43(0) 2236 807 568, mailto:
    Vegard Skirbekk +43(0) 2236 807 378
  • Reference: Bowen, C.E., & Skirbekk, V. (2013). National stereotypes of older people’s competence are related to older adults’ participation in paid and volunteer work. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, doi:10.1093/geronb/gbt101
  • More information: Read an interview with Bowen on the IIASA blog

Experts available for comment

Researchers in IIASA’s World Population Program are leaders in demographic research related to population projections, migration, education, and religion. For more information please feel free to contact the researcher directly, or get in touch with IIASA Science Writer & Press Officer Katherine Leitzell .

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Last edited: 02 December 2013


Raya Muttarak

Principal Research Scholar Migration and Sustainable Development Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program


Recent posts by Raya Muttarak and Catherine Bowen.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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