Headshot of Nancy Luke with short, blonde hair wearing a white top and brownish red scarf.

Nancy Kay Luke, Ph.D.


Dr. Luke is a social demographer whose research focuses on the role that social relationships—including gender, marriage, and family—play in shaping health and wellbeing in developing countries.  In particular, she studies the exchange of resources within familial relationships, including bargaining between spouses over the allocation of household resources in India and the exchange of psychosocial and economic support between migrant children and their families of origin in Kenya.  With respect to nonfamilial relationships, she examines the exchange of money and gifts within nonmarital sexual partnerships (often referred to as "transactional sex") in sub-Saharan Africa.  Dr. Luke's recent work concerns important health issues, such as sexual behavior and HIV risk, marital violence, son preference, and child nutrition. Dr. Luke's research is interdisciplinary, incorporating theoretical and methodological insights from sociology, economics, anthropology, and public health.  She has designed and directed several large-scale surveys as well as conducted qualitative studies in Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam.  In support of her research, Dr. Luke has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the World Bank.  Dr. Luke's research appears in American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Population Studies, Population and Development Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, Demographic Research, Review of Economics and Statistics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Development Economics, and Studies in Family Planning among other journals and edited volumes.

Research Interests

Social Demography; Sexual, Reproductive and Child Health; Migration and Remittances; Africa and South Asia


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1997
  • M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1991
  • B.A., Miami University (Ohio), 1987