Associate Professor

Office: Social Sciences 414
Phone: 773-834-0334

PhD 2007, University of Texas at Austin


My training and background is in two areas: social demography & the sociology of religion. Bridging these two fields, my work features the demographer’s characteristic concern with data and denominators and an insistence on connecting demographic processes to questions of meaning. I ask a lot of questions about data quality, and I may or may not be addicted to data collection.

I’ve written extensively on the role of religion in the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, but religion permeates my research, even when it isn’t present as a variable. Since 2008 I have been the principal investigator of Tsogolo la Thanzi (TLT)—an ongoing longitudinal study of young adults in Malawi. Demographers use terms like “relationship instability” and “fertility trajectories,” but very plainly: TLT asks how young adults negotiate relationships, sex, and childbearing with a severe AIDS epidemic swirling around them. The TLT research centre, located in Balaka (Southern Malawi), is staffed by over two dozen talented locals and supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Selected Publications

Trinitapoli, Jenny and Sara Yeatman. 2018. “The Flexibility of Fertility Preferences in a Context of Uncertainty.” Population and Development Review.

Trinitapoli, Jenny. 2015. “AIDS & Religious Life in Malawi: Rethinking How Population Dynamics Shape Culture.” Population-e 70(2): 245-270.

Frye, Margaret and Jenny Trinitapoli. 2015. “Ideals as Anchors: A Subjective and Sequential Approach to Understanding Romantic Relationships.” American Sociological Review 80(3): 496-525.

Smith-Greenaway, Emily and Jenny Trinitapoli. 2014. “Polygynous Contexts, Family Structure, and Infant Mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.” Demography 51(2): 341–366.

Trinitapoli, Jenny and Alexander Weinreb. 2012. Religion and AIDS in Africa. New York: Oxford University Press.

Trinitapoli, Jenny and Sara E. Yeatman. 2011. “Uncertainty and Fertility in a Generalized AIDS Epidemic.” American Sociological Review 76(6):935–54.