RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Area(s) of Expertise:
Sociology of Mental Health, Social Stratification and Mobility, Life Course Sociology
Jason Houle is a sociologist and demographer whose research revolves around three core interests:
1) the social determinants of mental health and well-being, and the mechanisms that (re)produce social disparities in mental health across the life course;
2) understanding how socioeconomic inequalities are reproduced across and within generations; and
3) the importance of historical and biographical time (age, cohort, and period) for shaping human lives.
Jason's recent work has been motivated by his interests in sociological understandings of social stratification and mobility and the rise in credit availability to American consumers, to young adults in particular. His current projects in this area examine how indebtedness in young adulthood has changed over the latter half of the 20th century, and how debt in young adulthood is implicated in the process of status attainment and social mobility. In an era of rising inequality and rising debt levels, he is especially interested in how debt may serve to reproduce and exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities across generations.
As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, Jason launched a research program that examines the implication of rising debt and the Foreclosure Crisis for population health and mental health. He has started two long-term research projects that examine: 1. the bi-directional relationship between debt and well-being across the life course; and 2. the impact of the great recession and the recent rise in home foreclosures on population health and mental health. To support this new research agenda, he has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and currently has grants under review at the National Institutes of Health and the MacArthur Foundation.His prior work has examined a broad array of issues related to population mental health, including the effects of social mobility on psychological well-being, the link between adolescent obesity and mental health, the mechanisms that link depression and premature mortality, and mixed-methods research that investigates the consequences of sexual harassment for mental health.