Carolina Milesi, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
University of Chicago
Email: Discipline: Sociology, Demography Expertise: Disparities, Life Course

Investigator Award
Analyzing the Relationship Among Early Childhood Conditions, Reproduction of Socioeconomic Inequalities and Adult Health Disparities
Award Year: 2008 Despite increased attention to the disturbing problem of disparities, certain groups of Americans remain healthier than others, due largely to differences in race and ethnicity, income, education, residential segregation, and other social factors. Co-PIs Alberto Palloni, Ph.D. and Carolina Milesi, Ph.D. seek to better understand the mechanisms that lead to health gaps by probing the connections between child and adult health. Their project, Early Childhood Conditions, Reproduction of Socioeconomic Inequalities, and the Persistence of Adult Health Disparities, employs innovative methods to study how pathways to fair or poor health in adulthood unfold from early childhood. Drs. Palloni and Milesi analyze a host of factors, including the effects of parents' socioeconomic status, their health and use of tobacco and alcohol, child health outcomes, development of personality traits such as tenacity and perseverance, exposure to stressful environments, and educational attainment. Project findings should help improve the design of strategies aimed at reducing disparities by identifying options for mitigating the consequences of poor health in children.


Carolina Milesi is a senior research scientist in the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. She is currently the Project Director of a National Science Foundation-funded study of gender differences in college students’ persistence in computer science and computer engineering, based on a data collected via the Experience Sampling Method using smartphone technology to obtain students’ subjective states both in and out of the classroom several times a day over the course of a week. Previously she was a researcher at the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Milesi studies socioeconomic disparities in education and health. Her most recent work focuses on the impact that health conditions early in life have on the development of cognitive skills as children begin formal schooling. In collaboration with Alberto Palloni, she has examined the impact of childhood health conditions on the attainment of economic and health outcomes during adulthood. Another stream of her work examines the trajectories youth follow in post-secondary education and in particular the impact that increasingly alternative trajectories have had on the completion of a post-secondary degree. The American Educational Research Association awarded her a grant to compare the pathways to college across two youth cohorts born about 20 years apart. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, this project describes how the process of college enrollment, college persistence, and college completion had changed throughout these two decades.