University of St Andrews


Photo of Jo Mhairi Hale


I started my academic life studying social psychology (University of Virginia, Bachelor’s, 2001), and since then moved to sustainable communities (Northern Arizona University, Master’s, 2009), women’s and gender studies (Northern AZ Uni., Grad. Cert., 2009), sociology with a focus on health inequalities and social stratification (University of California, Davis, MA 2013, & PhD, 2016), and then demography (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, Postdoc 2016-2018). Through all of those twists and turns, I have focused on the association between health and well-being and intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and migration, contextualized by structural factors such as economic recessions and social welfare provision. In the years between my Bachelor’s and Master’s, I worked: on a horse ranch, at an Alaskan fishing lodge, for an outfitters in the Arctic Circle, teaching English as a second language in Costa Rica, in the court system, and in anti-domestic violence & sexual assault non-profits. Happy to discuss any and all, as well as your research interests/career ambitions, during office hours or email for an appointment.



Research Interests

One of my key areas of interest is identifying the life-course social and behavioral risk factors for later-life cognitive impairment and dementia mortality.I have analyzed administrative datasets such as the Center for Disease Control WONDER database, as well as multiple cross-sectional and longitudinal survey datasets, including the National Agricultural Workers Survey, the Health and Retirement Study, and the Survey on Income and Program Participation. I have utilized both qualitative and quantitative methods, collaborating with scholars from a range of disciplines, including epidemiology, public health, formal demography, and economics.

Current projects:

  • Racial/ethnic, gender, and educational disparities in cognitive health expectancies
  • Trends in mild and severe cognitive impairment
  • Health disparities by legal status for Mexican-origin U.S. migrant farm workers 
  • Health disparities by duration of stay and material deprivation for migrants to Italy
  • Life course determinants of working poverty and early retirement (2 different projects)
  • Determinants of place of death in Denmark


Teaching Interests

  • Health disparities
  • Population health, especially contextualized by macroeconomic factors
  • Mixed Methods
  • Advanced Quantitative Analysis: Geographies of Inequality