Shelley Clark

clarkProfessor (James McGill Professor of Sociology)

Leave Jan-June 18

On leave Jan 19-Jun 19

Peterson Hall
3460 McTavish
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 0E6

Tel.: 514-398-8822
Fax: 514-398-7276
E-Mail: shelley.clark [at] (Shelley Clark)
Office: Peterson Hall, Room 336

Academic CV [.pdf] 

Research Areas

Social demography; family dynamics; child well-being; HIV/AIDS; adolescent transitions; and life course methods.



(PhD, Princeton University, 1999). 

Prof. Clark is a demographer whose research focuses on gender, health, and life course transitions in sub-Saharan Africa.  After receiving her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1999, Dr. Clark served as program associate at the Population Council in New York (1999 to 2002) and as an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago (2002 to 2006). In the summer of 2006, she joined the Department of Sociology at McGill.  Prof. Clark is the founding Director of the Centre on Population Dynamics and also directs the CFI-funded Life History, Health, and HIV/AIDS data laboratory.

Much of her research examines how adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa make key transitions to adulthood in the midst of an on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic.  In particular, her work has focused on how the transition into marriage shapes the risks of HIV/AIDS among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. She finds that for adolescent girls in many African countries, marriage does not provide a safe haven, showing instead that married adolescent girls are acutely vulnerable with respect to HIV.  Additional research demonstrates how the process of searching for and finding a suitable spouse places both adolescent boys and girls at considerable risk.  Through her current collaborative project with colleagues in Kenya, Burkina Faso, and South Africa, she is exploring the implications of single motherhood on women’s poverty and children’s health over the life course.  Her findings have been published in leading journals, such as Demography, Population and Development Review, Social Forces, and Journal of Marriage and Family, and presented to policy makers at influential international organizations, including the World Bank, WHO, UNFPA/UNICEF, and the Population Council.


Selected Publications


Smith-Greenaway, Emily and Shelley Clark. Forthcoming “Divorce Diffusion and its Effects on Child Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Social Science & Medicine – Population Health.

Madhavan, Sangeetha, Shelley Clark, Malcolm Araos, and Donatien Beguy. 2017. “Distance or Location?: How the Geographic Distribution of Kin Networks Shapes Support Given to Single Mothers in Urban Kenya.” The Geographical Journal, (DOI: 10.1111/geoj.12230)

Smith-Greenaway, Emily and Shelley Clark. 2018. “Women’s Marriage Behavior following a Premarital Birth in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(1): 256–270. (DOI:10.1111/jomf.12433).

Clark, Shelley, Sangeetha Madhavan, Cassandra Cotton, Donatien Beguy, and Caroline Kabiru. 2017. “Who Helps Single Mothers in Nairobi?: The Role of Kin Support” Journal of Marriage and Family, 79(4): 1186–1204 (DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12404).

Koski, Alissa, Shelley Clark, and Arijit Nandi. 2017. “Has Child Marriage Declined in Sub-Saharan Africa? An Analysis of Trends in 31 Countries,” Population and Development Review 43(1):7-29 (DOI: 10.1111/padr.12035).

Clark, Shelley, Alissa Koski, and Emily Smith-Greenaway. 2017. “Recent Trends in Premarital Childbirth in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Studies in Family Planning, 48(1): 3-22 (DOI: 10.1111/sifp.12013)

Madhavan, Sangeetha, Shelley Clark, Donatien Beguy, Caroline Kabiru, and Mark Gross. 2017. “Moving Beyond the Household: Innovations in Data Collection on Kinship.Population Studies. 71(1): 117-132. (DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2016.1262965)

Le Bourdais, Céline, Sung Hee Jeon, Shelley Clark, and Évelyne Lapierre-Adamcyk. 2016. “Impact of Conjugal Separation on Women’s Income: in Canada: Does the Type of Union Matter?Demographic Research, 35(50): 1489-1522. (DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2016.35.50 )

Bertrand-Danereau, Anaïs and Shelley Clark. 2016. “Impulsive Marriage and Early Divorce among Women in Rural Malawi: Pragmatic Traditions or Romantic Aspirations?Demographic Research, 35(3): 47-80. (DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2016.35.3)

Marteleto, Letícia, Shannon Cavanagh, Kate Prickett, and Shelley Clark. 2016. “Instability in Parent–Child Coresidence and Adolescent Development in Urban South Africa.Studies in Family Planning, 47(1): 19-38. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2016.00048.x)

Clark, Shelley and Sarah Brauner-Otto. 2015. “Divorce in Sub-Saharan Africa: Are Unions Becoming Less Stable?Population and Development Review, 41(4): 583-605. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2015.00086.x)

Clark, Shelley, Cassandra Cotton, and Leticia Marteleto. 2015. “Family Ties and Young Fathers’ Engagement in Cape Town, South Africa.Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(2): 575-589.

Clark, Shelley and Dana Hamplovà. 2013. “Single Motherhood and Child Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa:  A Life Course Perspective.” Demography, 50(5):1521-1549. 

Anglewicz, Philip and Shelley Clark.  2013. "The Effect of Marriage and HIV Status on Condom Use in Rural MalawiSocial Science & Medicine, 97: 29-40. 

Clark, Shelley and Cassandra Cotton.  2013. “Transitions to Adulthood in Urban Kenya: A Focus on Adolescent Migrants.”  Demographic Research, 28: 1053-1092.

Clark, Shelley and Rohini Mathur. 2012. “Dating, Sexual Debut, and Secondary School Completion in Urban Kenya.”  Studies in Family Planning, 43(3):  161-174.

Clark, Shelley, Caroline Kabiru, and Eliya Zulu. 2011. “Do Men and Women Report Their Sexual Partnerships Differently?:  Evidence From Kisumu, Kenya.International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37(4):  181-190.

Luke, Nancy, Shelley Clark, and Eliya Zulu. 2011. “The Relationship History Calendar: Improving the Scope and Quality of Data on Youth Sexual Behavior.” Demography, 48: 1151-1176.

Clark, Shelley. 2010. "Extra-Marital Sexual Partnerships and Male Friendships in Rural Malawi" Demographic Research, 22: 1-28.

Clark, Shelley, Caroline Kabiru, and Rohini Mathur. 2010. "Relationship Transitions Among Youth in Urban Kenya." Journal of Marriage and Family, 72: 73-88.

Clark, Shelley, and Catherine Kenney. 2010. “Is the U.S. Experiencing a “Matrilineal Tilt”?: Gender, Family Structures and Financial Transfers to Adult Children.” Social Forces, 88(4): 1753-1776. ( click here for supplemental tables [.pdf])

Anglewicz, Philip, Simona Bignami-Van Assche, Shelley Clark, and James Mkandawire. 2010. “HIV Risks Among Currently Married Couples in Rural Malawi: What do Spouses Know About Each Other?AIDS and Behavior, 14: 103-112.

Clark, Shelley, Michelle Poulin, and Hans-Peter Kohler. 2009. “Marital Aspirations, Sexual Behaviors and HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi.Journal of Marriage and the Family, 71: 396-416.

Boileau, Catherine, Shelley Clark, Michelle Poulin, et al.. 2009. “Sexual and Marital Trajectories and HIV Infection Among Ever-Married Women in Rural Malawi.Sexually Transmitted Infections, 85 (Suppl 1): i27-i33.

Heymann, Jody, Shelley Clark, and Tim Brewer. 2008. “Moving from Preventing HIV/AIDS in Its Infancy to Preventing Family Illness and Death (PFID).International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 12: 117-119.

Clark, Shelley, Judith Bruce, and Annie Dude. 2006. “Protecting Girls from HIV/AIDS: The Case Against Child and Adolescent Marriage.International Family Planning Perspectives, 32(2); pp 79-88.

Kaufman, Carol, Shelley Clark, Ntsiki Manzini, and Julian May. 2004. “Communities, Opportunities, and Adolescent Sexual Behavior in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa." Studies in Family Planning, 35(4); pp 261-274.

Clark, Shelley. 2004. “Early Marriage and HIV Risks in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Studies in Family Planning, 35(3); pp 149-160.


Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

SOCI 365: Health and Development

Graduate Courses:

SOCI 504: Quantitative Analyses I
SOCI 513: Social Aspects of AIDS in Africa
SOCI 545: Sociology of Population
SOCI 626: Demographic Methods

Office hours

Sabbatical Leave: January - June 2018

Research Grants

International Development Research Centre (IDRC), GrOW, “Creating Better Economic Opportunities for Women in Nairobi Slums Through Improved Childcare Options” (2014-2017)

Population Council, RISING, “Financial Literacy and Educational Incentive Program for Adolescent Girls in Ghana” (2014-2016)

National Institutes of Health, (NIH NICHD, R21) “Measuring Kinship Support for Children of Single Mothers in Nairobi, Kenya” (2014-2017)

Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Development Grant “Pilot Test of a New Family Support Tree (FST) Survey Instrument in Montréal, Canada and Nairobi, Kenya” (2013-2015)

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), “Life Histories, Health, and HIV/AIDS Data Center” (2007-2012)

National Institute for Health (NIH NICHD R21), “Using Relationship Histories to Improve Sexual Behavior Data Among Kenyan Couples” (2006-2007)