Mike Hout’s research uses demographic methods to study social change in inequality, religion, and politics in developed and developing countries. For much of his career, he was involved with the General Social Survey (GSS), a long-running NSF project. His current work uses the GSS to study changing occupational hierarchies and social mobility in the United States and comparable data on other countries to study the US from a comparative perspective. He is also at work on the demography of attitude change in the United States since the 1970s.

Research Interests

My main interest is social change. I have written on change and variation in social mobility, work life, education, politics, fertility, and religion in the USA as well as social mobility and education in Europe. In that research I have documented the ways in which demographic changes contribute to social change. Demographic changes are important because they explain how society changes even when the individuals that make up society do the same things they always have. The paradox is resolved by noting that the people entering the population through birth and immigration are different from the ones who leave through death or emigration. In this way demographic replacement contributes to social change even when individual people do not change. In doing this work I have also contributed to the technical literature on how to apply statistical methods to social science data. My current projects include a book on major social and cultural trends of the 20th century and research on the social consequences of growing economic inequality in the United States.

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Section 53: Social and Political Sciences