Sarah Brauner-Otto

Associate ProfessorSarah Brauner-Otto

Director of the Centre on Population Dynamics

Stephen Leacock Building, Room 728
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2T7

Tel.: 514-398-5682
Fax: 514-398-7476
E-mail: sarah.brauner-otto [at]

Office Hours: Fall 2021
Wednesdays 10:00 - 11:00

Via Zoom

Research Areas

Demography, Family Sociology, Fertility, Macro-Micro Linkages, Population & Environment



(PhD, University of Michigan, 2007)

Dr. Brauner-Otto is a social demographer studying global family change with a focus on the relationship between social context (e.g. schools, community organizations) and demographic behaviors over the life course. She is particularly interested in which dimensions of social context (e.g. characteristics of schools or health services) matter the most and how context influences the individual. Her research program has three axes: social influences on global family change, macro-level perspectives on social organizations and fertility, and methodological tools for studying global family change. Previously published papers examine the relationship between specific services offered by a community organization, type of religious practices, and the specific kinds of natural resources available and fertility and marriage behavior in Nepal and institutional influences on fertility in low fertility settings.

Brauner-Otto’s research in the coming years will focus on labor markets as a key dimension of social context influencing global family change. This work is partly funded by an NIH grant to use the Chitwan Valley Family Study to investigate the relationship between female labor force participation and child outcomes in Nepal, a poor country where participation in paid, non-family labor has only recently become widespread. Using data from low fertility settings where women’s labor force participation is well established, she will investigate how specific dimensions of work (e.g. job autonomy and security) may influence fertility intentions and behavior.


Selected Publications

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R., Sarah Baird, and Dirgha Ghimire. 2019. “Maternal Employment and Child Health in Nepal: The importance of job type and timing across the child’s first five years.” Social Science & Medicine. 224: 94-105. DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.02.009

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. and Claudia Geist. 2018. “Uncertainty, Doubts, and Delays: Economic context and fertility expectations among young Americans.” Journal of Family and Economic Issues. 39(1): 88-102. DOI 10.1007/s10834-017-9548-1

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. and Axinn, William G. 2017. “Natural resource collection and desired family size: A longitudinal test of environment-population theories.” Population and Environment 38(4): 381-406. DOI 10.1007/s11111-016-0267-6

Geist, Claudia and Sarah R. Brauner-Otto. 2017. “Constrained Intentions: Individual Economic Resources, Regional Context, and Fertility Expectations in Germany.” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 3:1-17. DOI 10.1177/2378023116685334

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. 2016. “Canadian Fertility 1980-2013: A story of regional variation.” In R. Rindfuss and M. Choe (Eds.), Low fertility, institutions, and their Policies: Variations across industrialized countries, pages 99-130. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Rindfuss, Ronald R., Minja Kim Choe, and Sarah R. Brauner-Otto. 2016. “The Emergence of Two Distinct Fertility Regimes in Economically Advanced Countries” Population Research and Policy Review 35(3): 287-304. DOI 10.1007/s11113-016-9387-z

Clark, Shelley and Sarah R. Brauner-Otto. 2015. “Divorce in Sub-Saharan Africa:  Are Unions Becoming Less Stable?” Population and Development Review 41(4): 583-605.

Pearce, Lisa D., Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, and Yingchun Ji. 2015. “Explaining Religious Differentials in Family Size Preferences: Evidence from Nepal in 1996.” Population Studies 65(1): 23-37.

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. 2014. “Environmental Quality and Fertility: the Effects of Plant Density, Species Richness, and Plant Diversity on Fertility Limitation.” Population and Environment. 36(1): 1-31.

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. 2013. “Attitudes about Children and Fertility Limitation Behavior.” Population Research and Policy Review 32(1): 1-24. (PMID: 23745013)

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. 2012. “Schools, Their Spatial Distribution and Characteristics, and Fertility Limitation.” Rural Sociology 77(3): 321-354. (PMID: 23162168)

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R., Jennifer Yarger, and Joyce Abma. 2012. “Does it Matter How You Ask? Question Wording and Males’ Reporting of Contraceptive Use at Last Sex.” Social Science Research 41(5): 1028-1036. (PMID: 23017915)

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. and William G. Axinn. 2010. “Parental Family Experiences, the Timing of First Sex, and Contraception.” Social Science Research 39(6): 875-893. (PMID: 21079724)

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R. 2009. “Schools, Schooling, and Children’s Support of Their Aging Parents.” Ageing & Society 29(7): 1015-39. (PMID: 20161526)

Rindfuss, Ronald R. and Sarah R. Brauner-Otto. 2008. “Institutions and the Transition to Adulthood: Implications for fertility tempo in low fertility settings.” Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 57-87. (PMID: 20622992)

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R., William G. Axinn, and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2007. “The Spread of Health Services and Fertility Transition.” Demography 44(4): 747-70. (PMID: 18232209)


Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

SOCI 234 Population and Society

SOCI 331 Population and the Environment

SOCI 405 Family over the Life Course

Graduate Seminar:

SOCI 502 Sociology of Fertility

SOCI 626 Demographic Methods


Selected research grants

“Female Labor Force Participation and Child Outcomes.” Co-PI with Dirgha Ghimire (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor). $171,627 USD. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development R03 (August 2016-July 2018).

“Liens entre logement et fécondité: une analyse comparative de divers pays.” PI. $39,566. Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et culture, Établissement de nouveaux professeurs-chercheurs (May 2015-April 2018). 


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