Director of Undergraduate Studies, Lecturer and Research Associate, Department of Global Development
Sarah Giroux is the director of undergraduate studies, lecturer & research associate in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the implications of demographic change for development and inequality in the modern world, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. Substantively, her current work documents how fertility declines underway in many African countries impact a variety of development outcomes, including economic growth, education, and inequality. Methodologically, her work seeks to leverage the strengths of micro-level data to answer broader macro-level questions, using creative decomposition-based approaches to study social change.
Beyond analyzing existing secondary data, Dr. Giroux has also co-led several large-scale data collection efforts, including a nationally representative survey on fertility and schooling in Cameroon from 2010-2014. She is currently working on a project tracking 5,000 young adults in Yaoundé, Cameroon, as they exit the school system and enter the labor market and adulthood. In addition to understanding this transition, she collaborates with national policymakers and a local NGO to develop and pilot innovative human capital building programs that can foster greater resilience and success among these young adults.
Dr. Giroux currently teaches DSOC 3130: Social Indicators and Introduction to Social Science Research, IARD 1100: Perspectives on International Agriculture and Rural Development (with Dr. Rebecca Nelson), and PAM/DSOC 4080/6080: Demographic Techniques (with Dr. Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue). In the past, she has also taught courses on population dynamics, social inequality, and environmental sociology. She also co-led a large capacity-building program from 2007 to 2016 to train mid-career researchers in social science methods at Universities and Ministries throughout West Africa. Her research has been supported by the Minerva Program, the Hewlett Foundation, the Spencer Foundation. She is a member of the graduate field of Global Development at Cornell.
Awards and Honors
- North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Award of Merit, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 2019
- Merrill Teaching Recognition Award (Katie Moran), 2018
- Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 2008
- Sanderson Award for Excellence in Sociology, 2003
- Population Association of America Poster Award 2011, 2013
- DHS MACRO Fellowship, Spring 2008 (Demographic Health Surveys)
- Future Leaders Forum Scholarship, 2007 (Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development)
- Doctorate, Cornell University, 2011
- Master of Science, Cornell University, 2006
- Bachelor of Science, Cornell University, 2003
Demography of Inequality and Poverty
Empirics Of Development and Inequality
The bulk of Sarah's research interests lie in the intersection of demography and inequality in the modern world, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Working largely with existing secondary data, she has used a range of analytic approaches to understand these issues, including work at both the micro and macro levels, as well as taking descriptive, causal and accounting techniques. Increasingly, her work examines how formal demographic processes both shape, and are shaped by, broader socioeconomic inequalities. A large part of her efforts have focused on the inference problems associated in trying to understand the impact of fertility transitions on national level social and economic outcomes, and using decomposition methods to identify the drivers of large scale social change at the macro-level. In her work, she has sought to combine innovative methods with careful and rigorous analysis-- not for the sake of science alone, but to address “real world” questions.
Peer Reviewed Publications
- A. Poon, S. Giroux, P. Eloundou-Enyegue, F. Guimbretiere, and F. Dell. (2020). Baccalauréat Practice Tests in Cameroon: The Impact of SMS-Based Exam Preparation. In ICTD ’20: Eleventh International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development. ACM Press, New York, New York, USA. DOI Forthcoming
- Giroux, S., Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Sipple, J., & Tenikue, M. (2019). “A Global Equalizer? Education and the Recent Economic Convergence of World Countries.” Annual Review of Comparative and International Education (39): 111–132
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Giroux, S., & Tenikue, M. (2019) “Educational Expansion in Africa (1965–2010): Implications for Economic Inequality between Countries.” Book chapter in Education and Development: Outcomes for Equality and Governance in Africa, Palgrave Macmillan. 978-3-030-40565-
- Poon, A., S. Giroux, P. Eloundou-Enyegue, F. Guimbretiere, and N. Dell. (2019). “Engaging High School Students in Cameroon with Exam Practice Quizzes via SMS and WhatsApp.” Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. doi: 10.1145/3290605.3300712. (23% Acceptance Rate)
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Giroux, S., & Tenikue, M. (2017). African Transitions and Fertility Inequality: A Demographic Kuznets Hypothesis. Population and Development Review, 43(S1), 59–83.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P. and S. Giroux (2013). “Schooling Dividends from Fertility Transitions. Early Evidence for sub- Saharan Africa, 1990-2005” Journal of Children and Poverty 19(1): 21-44.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P. and S. Giroux (2012) Effects of Fertility Transitions on Schooling in sub-Saharan Africa: From Microlevel to Aggregate Effects. Demography 49(4): 1407-1432.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P. and S. Giroux (2011) Demographic transitions and rural-urban inequality in sub-Saharan Africa. Pp. 125-135 in László J. Kulcsár and Katherine J. Curtis (Eds.) International Handbook of Rural Demography. Springer.
- Giroux, S., Jah, F., and P. Eloundou-Enyegue (2010). Globalization, Asymmetric Urbanization, and Rural Disadvantage in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pp. 132-149 in Alecia Jackson and Kai Shaft (Eds.) Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century: Identity, Place, and Community in a Globalizing World, Penn State Press.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Makki, F. and S. Giroux (2009). Sex versus SES: A Declining Significance of Gender for Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa? International Perspectives on Education and Society 10:1–37.
- Giroux, S. (2008). Rural Parentage and Labor Market Inequality: Sources and Trends in a Sub- Saharan Setting. Rural Sociology, 73:339–369.
- Giroux, S., Eloundou-Enyegue, P., and D. Lichter (2008). Reproductive Inequality in Sub- Saharan Africa: Differentials versus Concentration. Studies in Family Planning, 39:187–198.
- Giroux, S. (2008). Child Stunting Across Schooling and Fertility Transitions: Evidence from Sub- Saharan Africa. Demographic Health Survey Working Papers, No. 57.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Giroux, S., & Tenikue, M. (2018). Understanding Social Change. Contribution of Decomposition Methods and Application to The Study of the Demographic Dividend. Signature Book Publishing, USA. ISBN 978-0-578-20322-5
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., Giroux, S., & Tenikue, M. (2017). Comprendre le Changement Social: Apport des Methods de Decomposition. IUSSP, Paris France.
- Eloundou-Enyegue, P., & Giroux, S. (2020, April 14). Cultivating the Demographic Dividend Generation. Gates Insititute: Demographic Dividend Project. https://demographicdividend.org/cultivating-the-demographic-dividend-generation/
During her tenure at Cornell, Sarah has taught a range of courses including DSOC 313: Research Methods; DSOC 3240 Environment & Society; IARD 2020: Introduction to International Agriculture & Rural Development; DSOC 2010: Population Dynamics; and DSOC 3700: Comparative Social Inequalities. While varied in breadth, they all broadly sought to facilitate her student’s cultivation of the analytic tools (theoretical, conceptual and methodological) needed to effectively produce and consume emergent social science research.
Sarah's objective is to push students beyond simplistic understandings of social science processes to a place where they can read, question, critique, and contribute to pressing social debates. To achieve this end goal, her teaching is grounded in two pedagogical necessities: to develop enthusiastic and active learners. Her courses are organized to move from simple concepts/theories, to analytical frameworks, and to applications and extensions. In all of her teaching, she tries to foster experiential and interactive learning. While some classes are lecture format to ensure that students have firm understanding of key concepts, she strives to spend more of my class time on applications. This means grounding new concepts in students’ experience, fostering class discussions, and designing hands-on activities.
Across all of her courses, Sarah seeks to generate enthusiasm by keeping the materials relevant – even when reading classic theories (i.e. Marx) or teaching seemingly “dry” methods (i.e. life table analysis). To this end, all of her courses integrate both academic and popular reading materials, and, when she lectures, she spends the bulk of lecture time drawing upon current news items and stories and working with students to apply concepts to concrete cases. By keeping the material relevant and case based, she is able to spend more of the class time with students actively discussing and engaging in the concepts, theories, and methods that they have read about prior to class time. She also incorporates efforts to foster quantitative literacy into all of her undergraduate teaching.
Development Sociology 3130: Social Indicators
Undergrad level DSOC requirement that reviews the general process through which social scientists derive credible answers to important questions about social change and social influences on individual behavior. Covers all steps in the research process, from the formulation of a research question to the final presentation of findings. The course is designed as a preparation for future work in social science research, but it is also intended for students who simply want to sharpen their capacity to evaluate the claims made by researchers. The course combines theory and application, with students using SPSS to investigate questions with existing secondary data sets (including World Bank, Demographic Health Surveys, U.S. Census/ACS, and General Social Survey)
International Agriculture and Rural Development 2020: Perspectives on IARD
Lead instructor for co-taught course with Drs. Rebecca Nelson and Erika Styger. Undergrad IARD requirement designed to enable students to gain an understanding of major issues in international agricultural development. Provides an overview of world poverty and hunger and of varying perspectives on approaches being taken to address these and related problems. Students characterize the state of agriculture and rural livelihoods in selected developing countries, and analyze how innovations in agriculture in these countries can contribute to rural development.
Development Sociology 4080/6080: Demographic Techniques
Co-taught with Dr. Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue. Cross listed graduate/undergraduate course that covers selected demographic methods and their application to social science research. The core tools covered include life tables, Lexis diagrams and especially, decomposition methods. The course is not limited to demographers. Rather, it is open to social scientists of all stripes who wish to expand their methodological toolkit and their capacity to study social change, including trends, causes and consequences of aggregate social change. The tools reviewed in the class can advance the rigorous study of social change by addressing two classic problems in social science, namely the ecological fallacy (micro-macro problem) and the heterogeneity (diversity) problem.
Development Sociology 4991: Honors Research in Social Science
Undergraduate level elective for senior students with 3.0 + GPA. Students develop a yearlong research project proposal in the Fall, which must be approved by a college wide committee, and work through the Spring to complete their project. A final draft must pass committee review. Mentored and supervised 9 students since Fall of 2011, all of whom graduated with honors in research.
- The Demography of Stability: West Africa’s Youth Bulge and National Security, Minerva Project- Department of Defense (2017, $1.4 million). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.
- “Bringing the Classroom into African Classrooms: A Virtual Voyage into African Classrooms.” Internationalizing Cornell Curriculum (ICC) grant from the Office of the Vice Provost of International Affairs (2015, $15,883). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue
- “Africa Counts: Using the CISER Model to Boost Social Science Capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.” Cornell Einaudi Center (2014, $7,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou and William Block
- “Training grant to advance population studies in sub-Saharan Africa.” (renewal). Hewlett Foundation (2013, $275,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue
- “Cyberboosting African Social Science. Exporting the CISER Experience.” Cornell Institute for Social Sciences Small Grants Program (2012, $4,021). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou and William Block
- Enhancing Demographic Research Capacity in Francophone Africa - Summer Conference and Workshop.” Cornell Einaudi Center (2011, $6,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue and Thomas Hirschl (tah4 [at] cornell.edu ())
- “Training grant to advance population studies in sub-Saharan Africa.” (renewal) Hewlett Foundation (2010, $400,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.
- “ Research grant to study schooling and fertility transitions in sub-Saharan Africa.” Spencer Foundation (2009, $489,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.
- “Training Grant to enhance population studies in sub-Saharan Africa Hewlett Foundation (2007, $300,000). Project collaborator* with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.
*Cornell University policy dictates that only faculty can serve as Primary Investigators (PI) and Co- Investigators (CI). While my role in all of these grants was substantial- developing the proposals, managing budgets, securing payments to contractors, writing mid-term and final reports, I didn’t want to misrepresent my title. If you would like more information about my role in these projects, please feel free to contact any of the PIs.
Grant Management Experience
- Africa’s Youth Bulge and National Security: Successful Youth Transitions, Spring 2017-Present
- CIFORD-Improving Demographic Training Research Capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, Fall 2007- Spring 2016
- Cameroon Longitudinal Data Project, 2009- 2013
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