Heather Rackin

Heather M. Rackin

Associate Professor of Sociology

125 Stubbs Hall

Email Address:

Office Phone:
(225) 578-5123

Humanities & Social Sciences



  • Family Formation & Fertility
  • Social Inequality
  • Social Demography



Hello and thank you for actually looking at my page (assuming you arrived here due to some rational choice rather than random chance)! I joined the faculty here after receiving my Ph.D. at Duke University. In short, I am a social demographer who focuses on three substantive research areas: fertility intentions; socioeconomic inequality in family context; and population health and well-being. My work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Marriage and Family, Population and Development Review, Population Research and Policy Review, and Demographic Research. If you want to know more, please read on. If not, thanks for this short cyber visit! 

First, I use a novel model, the social-cognitive model, to discern how cognition and life course conditions impact the development, realization, and retrospective rationalization of fertility intentions. Prior models suggest that women consciously formulate intentions and set out to realize them. In contrast, my work suggests that fertility intentions can develop unconsciously, reflect different things at various points in the life course, change in response to life course conditions, and, often, reported intentions are post-hoc rationalizations. Second, I examine the growing socioeconomic divergence in children’s family contexts and the instability that they are exposed to. These growing disparities are concerning because they foreshadow even greater inequality in the future because the negative impacts of non-marital contexts and instability are increasingly bore by disadvantaged children. Third, I explore health and well-being. I have analyzed how unintended fertility impacts mental health, how exposure to an egalitarian context in young adulthood (i.e., military service) improves the well-being of Blacks, and the relationship between religion and breastfeeding. 

While not a substantive interest, I also love using various research methods, complex longitudinal datasets, and have developed new techniques to provide researchers more tools to answer their questions. I have used multiple research methods such as propensity score weighting, longitudinal methods, qualitative methods, decomposition, and social network methods using various datasets such as the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Also, I have developed new methods, Network Text Analysis (NTA), to give researchers a way to measure cognitive schemas and, therefore, apply the social-cognitive model. NTA uses social network techniques adapted to words to build a relational network of words to decipher meaning. Patterns of frequent word associations appear and represent meaning or mental schemas. 

I also love teaching statistics and, thus, you’ll likely find me drawing distributions throughout LSU. In my classes, I use simulation methods to illustrate the concepts of standard error and p-value. It’s an exciting class and students even get to make statistical music videos!


PhD: Duke University (2013)

Curriculum Vitae

Courses Recently Taught at LSU

(Syllabi are for illustrative purposes & subject to change)

  • SOCL 2201: Introduction to Statistical Analysis
  • SOCL 7201: Research Methods in Sociology