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Joseph D. Wolfe

Associate Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Heritage Hall 460A
(205) 934-8681

Research and Teaching Interests: Medical Sociology, Health disparities, Social stratification, The Life Course

Office Hours: By appointment


  • BA, Millsaps College, Sociology
  • MS, Indiana University, Applied Statistics
  • PhD, Indiana University, Sociology

I grew up in a small town in Mississippi and wasn’t exposed to sociology until I went to college. I became interested in studying the social world immediately after taking my first sociology course. I was fascinated by the extent to which social structures determine our lives. Broadly speaking, my research focusses on social inequalities and aging interact with one another to influence population health. I'm actively working on projects related to:

  1. wealth, debt, and midlife health and
  2. the shifting determinants of health disparities across historical contexts.

With my research, I aim to extend the work of past scholars and scientists who have improved the quality of our lives by shedding light on the interplay between society and health, and by doing so, I hope to contribute knowledge to both social science and health-related disciplines.

I teach several undergraduate and graduate classes, ranging from sociological theory to categorical data analysis. I don’t think that research and teaching are mutually exclusive. In each of my classes, I actively consider the relevance of assigned readings and remain aware of recent developments in research and the news that I might use in my classes. I feel that it is essential that all types of students leave my class with a better understanding of the social world around them and the ability to articulate this understanding to others. I strive to accommodate the various needs of students while staying true to my purpose as a teacher to inspire and support students throughout their learning process.

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  • Recent Courses


    • Social Stratification
    • Classical Theory


    • Categorical Data Analysis
    • Classical Theory
    • Statistical Programming
  • Select Publications
    • Wolfe, Joseph D., Mieke Beth Thomeer and Rin Reczek. 2023. "Age at First Birth and Women's Midlife Health: Cohort and Race Differences across the 20th Century." Social Science & Medicine 331:1-9.
    • Wolfe, Joseph D., Elizabeth H. Baker, Jalal Uddin, and Stephanie Kirkland. 2022. “Varieties of Financial Stressors and Midlife Health Problems, 1996 to 2016.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B 77: 149-159.
    • Wolfe, Joseph D. and Mieke Beth Thomeer. 2021. “Divorce, Economic Resources, and Survival Among Older Black and White Women.” Journal of Marriage and Family 83: 173-190.
    • Cockerham, William C., Joseph D. Wolfe, and Shawn Bauldry. 2020. “Health Lifestyles in Late Middle Age.” Research on Aging 42: 34-46.
    • Wolfe, Joseph D., Elizabeth H. Baker., and Isabel C. Scarinci. 2019. “Wealth and Obesity Among U.S. Adults Entering Midlife.” Obesity 27: 2067-2075.
    • Wolfe, Joseph D. 2019. “Age, Cohort, and Social Change: Parental and Spousal Education and White Women’s Health Limitations from 1967 to 2012.” Research on Aging 41: 186-210.
    • Wolfe, Joseph D., Shawn Bauldry, Melissa A. Hardy, and Eliza K. Pavalko. 2018. “Multigenerational Attainments, Racial Inequalities, and the Mortality of Silent Generation Women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59: 335-351.
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • American Sociological Association
    • Population Association of America
    • Southern Sociological Society