Alex Shpenev, PhD

Associate Scholar

  •  Senior Data research Scientist | Populations Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania
  •  India
  •   Health Behavior | Non-communicable disease | Social determinants of health | Social Networks | Socioeconomic Inequality

Languages: English (proficient) , French (proficient), Russian (native), Ukrainian (intermediate)

Bio statement

A demographer and sociologist with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Statistics from the Wharton School, Dr. Shpenev teaches the MBDS elective Statistical Reasoning for Behavioral Science. Since coming to Penn, his interests have included understanding the educational gradient in health and mortality, specifically at the intersection with the sociology of the family and social networks. Dr. Shpenev investigates how social norms and social networks are linked to latrine use and better sanitation practices in India.

Recent global health projects

Ashraf, S., Kuang, J., Das, U., Shpenev, A., Thulin, E., & Bicchieri, C. (2022). Social beliefs and women’s role in sanitation decision making in Bihar, India: An exploratory mixed method study. Plos one, 17(1), e0262643. (

Das, U., Kuang, J., Ashraf, S., Sphenev, A., & Bicchieri, C. (2022). Women as Pioneers: Examining Their Role in Decision Making on Toilet Construction in India. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 1-28.

Longitudinal Evaluation of Norms and Networks in India: A longitudinal study aiming to diagnose the nature of social influence on toilet use in urban and rural India with a subsequent intervention to improve exclusive toilet use (co-investigator)

Consulting for the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health: A study of health and reproductive behavior in Malawi with a sub-component aiming to understand the role social networks play in these phenomena

Selected publications

Bicchieri, C.; Ashraf, S.; Das, U.; Delea, M.; Kohler, H.-P.; Kuang, J.; McNally, P.; Shpenev, A.; and Thulin, E., ”Phase 2 Project Report. Social Networks and Norms: Sanitation in Bihar and Tamil Nadu, India”. Penn Social Norms Group, 2018.

Bicchieri, C.; Ashraf, S.; Das, U.; Kohler, H.-P.; Kuang, J.; McNally, P; Shpenev, A.; and Thulin, E., ”Phase 1 Project Report. Social Networks and Norms: Sanitation in Bihar and Tamil Nadu, India”. Penn Social Norms Group, 2017.

Goryunov, E., Kazakova, M., Kotlikoff L.J., Mamedov A., Nesterova K., Nazarov V., Grishina E., Trunin P., and Shpenev, A.. “Russia’s Fiscal Gap.” NBER Working Paper, 19608, 2013.

Shpenev A. “Using Individual Microdata of Outpatient Hospitals to determine factors of Mortality and Morbidity.” (in Russian) Determination of Demographic Processes, a collection of articles (ed. V.N. Arkhangelsky), Moscow, 2012

Shpenev A., Sirotko M.L., Kalmykova N.M. “The Potential of Individual Data for the Analysis of Morbidity and Mortality at Municipal Level.” (in Russian) Regional Demographic Policy, a collection of articles (ed. V.V. Elizarov and N.G. Dzhanaeva), Moscow, 2012, 169–180.

Gridasov G.N., Sirotko M.L., Kalmykova N.M., Shpenev A., and Nemchenko I.A. “Medico-Demographic Approaches to the Estimation of Life Expectancy” (in Russian) ed. by Gridasov, G.N., 2012.

Last Updated: 27 November 2023