Research Expertise and Interest

fertility, marriage, social demography, historical demography, population aging, formal demography

Research Description

Goldstein's recent research includes a new interest in big data and naming patterns, particularly what first naming patterns can reveal about fertility intentions and how the choice of first names influences life chances. His earlier publications include How 4.5 Million Irish Immigrants Became 40 Million Irish Americans: Demographic and Subjective Aspects of Ethnic Composition of White Americans, Marriage Delayed or Marriage Foregone? New Cohort Forecasts of First Marriage for U.S. Women, and The End of 'Lowest-Low' Fertility? 

Goldstein received his M.A. (D.E.A.) in Demography and Social Sciences at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and his Ph.D in Demography from Berkeley. Before returning to Berkeley's Demography Department in 2013, Goldstein held positions as Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. 

In the News

Prioritizing oldest for COVID-19 vaccines saves more lives, years of life

Challenging the idea that older people with shorter life expectancies should rank lower in coronavirus immunization efforts, new UC Berkeley research shows that giving vaccine priority to those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 will save the maximum number of lives, and their potential or future years of life.

Demographers put COVID-19 death toll into perspective

With over 170,000 COVID-19 deaths to date, and 1,000 more each day, America’s life expectancy may appear to be plummeting. But in estimating the magnitude of the pandemic, UC Berkeley demographers have found that COVID-19 is likely to shorten the average U.S. lifespan in 2020 by only about a year.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
March 1, 2021
Putting the oldest people near the front of the line for COVID-19 shots will save more lives and may extend their lifespan, too, researchers say. The new study findings challenge the view that older people should be lower on the list for shots because they have a shorter life expectancy, according to the team from the University of California, Berkeley. "Since older age is accompanied by falling life expectancy, it is widely assumed that means we're saving fewer years of life," said lead author Joshua Goldstein, professor of demography. "We show this to be mistaken...The age patterns of COVID-19 [death rates] are such that vaccinating the oldest first saves the most lives and, surprisingly, also maximizes years of remaining life expectancy." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
November 16, 2020
Lisa M. Krieger
Even in this dark moment, as coronavirus cases surge to even more alarming levels and new lockdowns are imposed, there is a path forward to guide us out of this pandemic, experts say. What will life look like over the next year? UC Berkeley demographers Ronald Lee and Joshua Goldstein say the virus will shorten this country's average lifespan in 2020 by about a year. That's because older people, with fewer remaining years of life, represent the most fatalities, according to their research. But without interventions, they say, we could have lost five years. At universities, it's a mixed picture. Some campuses will try to bring students on campus. At UC Berkeley, the first two weeks will be fully remote but limited in-person instruction will start in February. Perhaps by next autumn, if our vaccine rollout is a success, life will feel safe enough to ease anxieties, rebuild relationships and start an unfettered restoration of the economy. "As we work to contain this epidemic," said UC Berkeley demographer Lee, "it is important to know that we have been through such mortality crises before." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
September 28, 2020
Justin Fox
COVID-19 is especially hard on the old and frail, with 79% of the deaths attributed to the disease in the U.S. among those 65 and older and 94% among people with at least one "comorbidity" such as diabetes, dementia, obesity or hypertension. 2020 is likely to see big increases in overall mortality. Because of the age profile of the disease, though, the life expectancy decline would be less historic. In a study that estimated 11.7 average years of life lost by U.S. COVID victims, University of California at Berkeley demographers Joshua R. Goldstein and Ronald D. Lee also estimated that 250,000 additional deaths due to the disease would decrease average U.S. life expectancy at birth by about 10 months (0.84 years) - the biggest one-year drop since World War II but smaller than decreases in 1943 and several years in the 1920s and 1930s (mostly due to bad flu seasons), and just a fraction of the staggering 11.8-year decline in 1918.
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