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Curriculum Vitae


2013 Ph.D., Demography and Sociology, with distinction, University of Pennsylvania
2010 A.M., Demography, University of Pennsylvania
2009 B.A., Economics and Health and Societies, with distinction, minor in English, summa cum laude, University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Y. Ho, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Gerontology and Sociology in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California and of Spatial Sciences in the USC Spatial Sciences Institute. She also is a faculty affiliate of the USC Race and Equity Center and a Schaeffer Center Fellow in the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics.

Her research interests lie in the areas of demography, medical sociology, aging and stratification. Broadly, her research aims to explain differences in health and mortality across countries and between population subgroups within countries.

She focuses on three main areas:

(1) causes of the U.S. life expectancy shortfall relative to other high-income countries;

(2) racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health and mortality; and

(3) determinants of health and mortality over the life course in developing countries.

One strand of her research examines why life expectancy in the United States lags behind life expectancy in most other high-income countries. To date, she has explored age variations in how American mortality performs compared to other high-income countries, assessed whether the health care system can explain the U.S. life expectancy disadvantage, and highlighted the importance of mortality differences at younger ages and of injury-related deaths for the U.S. life expectancy shortfall.

Her second strand of research focuses on how social, behavioral and institutional factors contribute to gender, geographic, socioeconomic and racial/ethnic health disparities, and how their influences have changed over time. She has examined the contribution of smoking to black-white life expectancy differences in the U.S. from 1980-2005 and to educational gradients in life expectancy in the United States from the 1980s-2006 and in Finland from 1971-2010. She also has studied the increase in black-white differences in cancer screening and mortality in the United States following the advent of effective cancer screening and treatment technologies.  Most recently, her research examined the contribution of drug overdose to educational gradients in life expectancy in the United States from 1992-2011. She is currently an investigator on an NIH-funded project on the causes of geographic divergence in American mortality between 1990 and 2015.

Her third strand of research examines the determinants of health and mortality across the age range in developing countries. This research focuses on incorporating biomarkers in the study of health across the life course and on addressing the rise in chronic disease burdens among aging populations in developing countries. In one paper, she finds that early life rainfall and temperature shocks are associated with worse adult health outcomes (lower height, higher blood pressure, and increased cardiovascular risk factors) among older adults in India. She also is exploring how the health, mortality, and well-being of the survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are evolving over the medium- and long-run in Aceh and North Sumatra, Indonesia, and to what extent changes in health represent processes of resilience and recovery at the individual, household, and community levels.

She was a Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Scientist at Duke University from 2013-2017.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Ho, Jessica Y. 2020. “Cycles of Gender Convergence and Divergence in Drug Overdose Mortality.” Population and Development Review. Published online May 9, 2020.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2020. “Causes of Gains and Losses in Life Expectancy in OECD Countries.” In OECD and The King’s Fund Workshop Proceedings, “Is Cardiovascular Disease Slowing Improvements in Life Expectancy?,” pgs. 39-52. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Sudharsanan, Nikkil and Jessica Y. Ho. 2020. “Rural-Urban Differences in Adult Life Expectancy in Indonesia: A Parametric G-Formula Based Decomposition Approach.” Epidemiology 31(3): 393–401.

Elo, Irma T., Arun S. Hendi, Jessica Y. Ho, Yana Vierboom, and Samuel H. Preston. 2019. “Trends in Non-Hispanic White Mortality in the United States by Metropolitan-Nonmetropolitan Status and Region, 1990- 2016.” Population and Development Review, 45(3): 549 583.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2019. “The Contemporary American Drug Overdose Epidemic in International Perspective.” Population and Development Review, 45(1): 7–40.

Ho, Jessica Y. and Arun S. Hendi. 2018. “Recent Trends in Life Expectancy Across High-Income Countries: A Retrospective Observational Study.” The BMJ. 362: k2562. Accompanying editorial "Reversals in life expectancy in high income countries?" by Domantas Jasilionis.

Ho, Jessica Y., Elizabeth Frankenberg, Cecep Sumantri, and Duncan Thomas. 2017. “Adult Mortality Five Years after a Natural Disaster: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Tsunami.” Population and Development Review, 43(3): 467–490.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2017. “The Contribution of Drug Overdose to Educational Gradients in Life Expectancy in the United States, 1992-2011.” Demography, 54(3): 1175-1202. Featured in the Population Reference Bureau article "Opioid Overdose Epidemic Hits Hardest for the Least Educated" by Paola Scommenga.

Peltonen, Riina E., Jessica Y. Ho, Irma T. Elo, and Pekka Martikainen. 2017. “Contribution of Smoking-Attributable Mortality to Life Expectancy Differences by Marital Status among Finnish Men and Women, 1971–2010.” Demographic Research 36(8): 255–280.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2016. “Mortality: Transitions and Measures.” In Ritzer, George (Ed.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 03 May 2016.

Frankenberg, Elizabeth, Jessica Y. Ho, and Duncan Thomas. 2015. “Biological Health Risks and Economic Development.” In John Komlos and Inas Rashad Kelly (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human Biology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Ho, Jessica Y. and Andrew Fenelon. 2015. “The Contribution of Smoking to Educational Gradients in U.S. Life Expectancy.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 56(3): 307-322. Referenced in The New York Times article “Disparity in Life Spans of the Rich and the Poor Is Growing” by Sabrina Tavernise.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2015. “Early Life Environmental Exposures and Height, Hypertension, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors Among Older Adults in India.” Biodemography and Social Biology, 61(2): 121-146.

Ho, Jessica Y. and Irma T. Elo. 2013. “The Contribution of Smoking to Black-White Differences in Mortality.” Demography, 50(2): 545–568.

Ho, Jessica Y. 2013. “Mortality Under Age 50 Accounts For Much of the Fact That US Life Expectancy Lags That of Other High-Income Countries.” Health Affairs 32(3): 459–467. Featured on PBS NewsHour, in The Philadelphia Inquirer article “Check Up: Life expectancy shortened by early years” by Don Sapatkin, and in the Population Reference Bureau article "Up to Half of U.S. Premature Deaths Are Preventable; Behavioral Factors Key" by Mark Mather and Paola Scommegna.

Martikainen, Pekka, Jessica Y. Ho, Samuel H. Preston, and Irma T. Elo. 2013. “The Changing Contribution of Smoking to Educational Differences in Life Expectancy: Indirect Estimates for Finnish Men and Women from 1971 to 2010.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 67: 219–224.

Preston, Samuel H. and Jessica Ho. 2011. “Low Life Expectancy in the United States: Is the Health Care System at Fault?” Pgs. 259-298 in International Differences in Mortality at Older Ages: Dimensions and Sources. Eileen Crimmins, Samuel H. Preston, and Barney Cohen, editors. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.  Featured in The New York Times article “To Explain Longevity Gap, Look Past Health System” by John Tierney, the Becker-Posner Blog, Marginal Revolution, The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Times, and Significance.

Ho, Jessica Y. and Samuel H. Preston. 2010. “U.S. Mortality in an International Context: Age Variations.” Population and Development Review, 36(4): 749–773.