Melissa Hardy

Melissa Hardy

Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Demography
Graduate Faculty and Program Committee (2012-2017), Social Data Analytics
Melissa Hardy


Ph.D. Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
M.A., Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
B.A., Sociology, Albright College
Social Data Analytics

Professional Bio

Research Interests

In my research, I study how sequences of positions or outcomes (such as jobs, health, or program entitlement) are structured by historical circumstances and social status. I look at differences across birth cohorts to see how the timing of events, such as economic downturns, war (civilian exposure and military service), and policy realignment shape race, gender, and cohort differences in attainment processes, health, and social positions.

I also study patterns of attitudes and beliefs as elements of social change, with a focus on attitudes toward civil liberties; people as defined by gender, race, religion, or nativity; policies that affect rights, both positive and negative, that bound our decision-making (e.g., end-of-life care and death; privacy).

Research Projects

Two current projects focus on birth cohorts born in the first part of the 20th century in the U.S. and in Europe.  I am using data from the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe supplemented by information that matches retrospective information on place to accounts of military campaigns during WWII.  These data allow me to study long term effects of early life war experiences on health and economic status later in life.  In a second project, I use 35 years of data on transitional birth cohorts of women born before and after WWII to test cohort and generational differences in the life course and family structures.