An assumption about life expectancy is that the richer the society, the longer and healthier the individuals in that society will live—but in the case of life expectancy, money can’t collectively buy us more time. Sociologist and demographer Mark Hayward has spent the majority of his career studying all-things life expectancy, and in this episode he talks about the devastating societal impacts of inequality and unpacks some of the largest factors to living a long and healthy life: education, social networks, social policies, and brain development. 


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Mark D. Hayward          

Mark D. Hayward is a professor of sociology and Centennial Commission Professor in the Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a health demographer and population health scientist. Currently, his work focuses on two issues: 1) “upstream institutional levers” of U.S. adult mortality trends and disparities, and 2) early life developmental origins of cognitive aging in the older population. He is a recipient of the Matilda White Riley Award from the National Institutes of Health for his contributions to behavioral and social scientific knowledge relevant to mission of NIH. He has served on numerous scientific advisory boards at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, major foundations (Robert Wood Johnson and Pew), and major federal agencies (e.g., the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Health Statistics). Professor Hayward also is the current editor of his field’s major journal, Demography. He received his B.A. at Washington State University and his PhD from Indiana University.

Professor Hayward is the 2022-2023 Carl F. Cranor Family Visiting Scholar. 

About Key Conversations 


Key Conversations with Phi Beta Kappa is a podcast featuring in-depth conversations between Fred Lawrence, Secretary/CEO of Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars. With a new episode released monthly, each podcast invites listeners to take a seat at the table to learn more about the featured Scholar's background, research, and how they have taken their respective paths to where they are now, and where they are headed. 

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.​

Our Host

Our Host

Frederick M. Lawrence is the 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. An accomplished scholar, teacher and attorney, he is one of the nation’s leading experts on civil rights, free expression, and bias crimes. Learn More.

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