Maureen Waller, Cornell University

Associate Professor Ithaca, New York mrw37@cornell.edu Office: (607) 254-4844

Bio/Research

Maureen R. Waller is Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. Before joining the PAM faculty, Waller was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She received her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University.

Maureen Waller's res...


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Bio/Research

Maureen R. Waller is Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. Before joining the PAM faculty, Waller was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She received her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University.

Maureen Waller's research has examined the meaning of changing family forms and relationships in low-income communities, and how social policies designed to encourage marriage and father involvement correspond to parents’ lived experiences. Waller's current research explores unmarried parents' perceptions of engaging the legal system to establish custody and visitation agreements and investigates complexities in the living arrangements of families formed outside of marriage.

In previous research, My Baby’s Father (Cornell University Press) drew on intensive interviews with unmarried men and women with children receiving welfare to examine how they made sense of the decision to have a child outside of marriage, how they defined unmarried fathers’ obligation to their children, how they negotiated paternal involvement and support, and how these practices interacted with mandatory welfare and child support regulations. Among other things, this research showed that unmarried parents' ideas about paternal responsibility, their informal systems of paternal recognition and support, and their often dire economic circumstances conflicted with key assumptions and regulations of child support policy.

Subsequent research has used longitudinal, qualitative interviews Waller conducted with a sub-sample of parents in the Fragile Families Study and the nationally representative survey data from this study to examine why some unmarried fathers are more successful than others at maintaining early ties to families. Papers coming out of this project have focused on issues such as the circumstances in which fathers become caregivers of young children, the implications of their incarceration for their parenting and romantic unions, and the link between couples' pregnancy intentions and men's early economic support of mothers. This work has also examined how unmarried couples' expectations about marriage, their fear of divorce, and their interpretations of relationship conflicts influence decisions about marriage.


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