Prof Hui Zheng

+852 3917 2063

9.23, 9/F., The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus


Hui Zheng is a demographer, ​social epidemiologist, and quantitative social scientist. He joined the University of Hong Kong as a Professor of Sociology in the fall of 2023. He started his career at The Ohio State University in 2011 and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2022. He was a consulting editor at American Journal of Sociology, served in the editorial boards of Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Social Science Research, and was a council member of medical sociology section of American Sociological Association. He is currently a Deputy-Editor for Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America.

His research focuses on understanding the causes, heterogeneity, inequality, and trends of population health and aging. It encompasses two interconnected areas: social and policy determinants of health, and population process of aging and mortality. He has investigated health consequences of various social structures, institutions, and policies; the trends of socioeconomic and demographic disparities in health; trend and heterogeneity in aging, mortality, and life span; the impact of life course dynamics of obesity on mortality; and the role of selection in health production and aging process. Methodologically, he is interested in developing and evaluating statistical and demographic methods to investigate the interplay of social-epidemiological changes, population dynamics and population heterogeneity on the trends and disparities in health, mortality, and life expectancy.

His scholarship is supported by grants from U.S. CDC (National Center for Health Statistics) and NIH (NIA, NICHD), and has appeared in high-visibility and high-quality outlets such as the American Sociological Review, Demography, American Journal of Epidemiology, International Journal of Epidemiology, The Journals of Gerontology: Social Science, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science and Medicine, and Journal of Marriage and Family. His work is covered by major media outlets including Time, New York Times, The Atlantic, USA Today, Newsweek, and The Times (UK).


B.A., Sociology, Renmin University of China

M.A., Sociology, Renmin University of China

Ph.D., Sociology, Duke University

Research interests

Health and Mortality


Social Epidemiology


Life Course

Social Inequality


Quantitative Methods

Current research

Current projects investigate the rising health challenges in the U.S.; determinants and consequences of cognitive aging across the life course; nativity disparities in labor market, aging, and health.

Honours and recognitions

IPUMS Health Surveys Research Award, 2022. (“Diminished Advantage or Persistent Protection? A New Approach to Assess Immigrants’ Mortality Advantages Over Time.”)

RAND Summer Institute Fellow, RAND Corporation, 2020

Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award Honorable Mention, ASA Medical Sociology Section, 2019. (“Does Medical Expansion Improve Population Health?”)

PARISS (Program for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences) Fellow, Social Science Research Institute, Duke University, 2010

Leadership in an Aging Society Fellow, Duke University, 2007

Selected publications

Zheng, Hui, and Wei-hsin Yu. 2022. “Diminished Advantage or Persistent Protection? A New Approach to Assess Immigrants’ Mortality Advantages Over Time.” Demography 59(5): 1655-1681.

Zheng, Hui, Yoonyoung Choi, Jonathan Dirlam, and Linda George. 2022. “Rising Childhood Income Inequality and Declining Americans’ Health.” Social Science & Medicine 303: 115016.

Zheng, Hui, and Paola Echave. 2021. “Are Recent Cohorts Getting Worse? Trends in U.S. Adult Physiological Status, Mental Health, and Health Behaviors across a Century of Birth Cohorts.” American Journal of Epidemiology 190(11): 2242-2255.

Zheng, Hui. 2021. “A New Look at Cohort Trend and Underlying Mechanisms in Cognitive Functioning.” The Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences 76(8): 1652-1663.

Zheng, Hui, Paola Echave, Neil Mehta, and Mikko Myrskyla. 2021. “Life-long Body Mass Index Trajectories and Mortality in Two Generations.” Annals of Epidemiology 56: 18-25.

Zheng, Hui. 2020. “Unobserved Population Heterogeneity and Dynamics of Health Disparities.” Demographic Research 43: 1009-1048.

Zheng, Hui, and Linda K. George. 2018. “Does Medical Expansion Improve Population Health?” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59(1): 113-132.

Zang, Emma, and Hui Zheng. 2018. “Does the Sex Ratio at Sexual Maturity Affect Men’s Later Life Mortality Risks?” Social Science & Medicine 202: 61-69.

Tumin, Dmitry, and Hui Zheng. 2018. “Do the Health Benefits of Marriage Depend on the Likelihood of Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and Family 80: 622-636.

Zheng, Hui. 2017. “Why Does College Education Matter? Unveiling the Contributions of Selection Factors.” Social Science Research 68: 59-73.

Dirlam, Jonathan, and Hui Zheng. 2017. “Job Satisfaction Developmental Trajectories and Health: A Life Course Perspective.” Social Science & Medicine 178: 95-103.

Zheng, Hui, and Jonathan Dirlam. 2016. “The Body Mass Index-Mortality Link across the Life Course: Two Selection Biases and Their Effects.” PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148178.

Zheng, Hui. 2015. “Losing Confidence in Medicine in an Era of Medical Expansion?” Social Science Research 52: 701-715.

Zheng, Hui. 2015. “Why Has Medicine Expanded? The Role of Consumers.” Social Science Research 52: 34-46.

Zheng, Hui. 2014. “Aging in the Context of Cohort Evolution and Mortality Selection.” Demography 51(4):1295-1317.

Zheng, Hui, Dmitry Tumin, and Zhenchao Qian. 2013. “Obesity and Mortality Risk: New Findings from BMI Trajectories.” American Journal of Epidemiology 178(11): 1591-9.

Zheng, Hui, and Patricia A. Thomas. 2013. “Marital Status, Self-Rated Health, and Mortality: Overestimation of Health or Diminishing Protection of Marriage?” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 54(1): 128-43.

Zheng, Hui, and Linda K. George. 2012. “Rising U.S. Income Inequality and the Changing Gradient of Socioeconomic Status on Physical Functioning and Activity Limitations, 1984-2007.” Social Science & Medicine 75(12): 2170-82.

Zheng, Hui, and Yang Yang. 2012. “Population Heterogeneity in the Impact of Body Weight on Mortality.” Social Science & Medicine 75(6): 990-6.

Zheng, Hui. 2012. “Do People Die from Income Inequality of A Decade Ago?” Social Science & Medicine 75(1): 36-45.

Zheng, Hui, Yang Yang, and Kenneth C Land. 2011. “Variance Function Regression in Hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Models, with Applications to the Study of Self-Reported Health.” American Sociological Review 76(6): 955-83.

Zheng, Hui, Yang Yang, and Kenneth C Land. 2011. “Heterogeneity in the Strehler-Mildvan General Theory of Mortality and Aging.” Demography 48: 267-90.

Zheng, Hui. 2009. “Rising U.S. Income Inequality, Gender, and Individual’s Self-Rated Health, 1972-2004.” Social Science and Medicine 69(9): 1333-42.