Samuel Preston, Ph.D.

Professor of Sociology


Ph.D. Economics, Princeton University, 1968
B.A., Economics, Amherst College, 1965

Curriculum Vitae

Research Description: 

Samuel Preston's major research interest is in the health of populations. He has written primarily about mortality trends and patterns in large aggregates, including twentieth century mortality transitions and black/white differentials in the United States. Recent research has focused on the mortality effects of cigarette smoking and obesity in developed countries. Two papers with Dana Glei and John Wilmoth use data for 21 countries for the past 60 years to demonstrate the relationship between lung cancer deaths and deaths from other causes. This relationship enables improved calculations of deaths attributable to smoking. One of these papers appears in a 2011 National Academy of Sciences publication from a committee that he co-chaired with Eileen Crimmins. The committee addressed the question of why US life expectancy lags so far behind the world's leaders. A related paper with Jessica Ho addressed the question of the effectiveness of the US health care system, relative to that of other countries, in enhancing survival. A third paper, with Andrew Stokes, estimated the impact of international variation in obesity on international differences in mortality. This paper led to a 5-year project funded by the National Institute of Aging that began in September 2011. Related work is supported by a grant from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Other recent research projects address the future of American fertility and the demographic causes of population aging.

Contact Information: 

Office: 289 McNeil Building
Phone: 215.746.5396