Maureen Waller


Maureen Waller

Associate Professor
257, Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: 607-254-4844 Fax: 607-255-4071
View Cornell University Contact Info
Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

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.

Current Professional Activities:

Waller is a member of the fields of Sociology and Public Affairs at Cornell University.  She is an affiliate of the Cornell Population Center (CPC), the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), and the Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI).  She is a research associate on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and serves on the editorial board of Journal of Marriage and Family.

Current Research Activities:

Maureen Waller is a sociologist who studies families, poverty, and social policy.  Her research has examined how inequality shapes the experiences of disadvantaged families, and how recent family and income support policies correspond to their lived realities. One current research project is drawing on qualitative interviews and survey data to explore unmarried parents' interactions with the family court system around parenting time. A second project with collaborators at BU and Rutgers, is investigating whether fathers can reduce disparities in outcomes for low and high income children, and which social and economic policies are effective levers for supporting disadvantaged men's involvement.

Waller's previous research also took a mixed method approach to examine social and policy issues which have deeply impacted the lives of poor families. This work has drawn on hundreds of qualitative interviews she conducted with low-income mothers and fathers as well as national survey data to provide new insight into these issues.  Among other things, this research has examined: how low-income men and women frame the decision to have a child, to marry, and to coparent outside of marriage, how they define the meaning and obligations of fatherhood, how they view fathers' formal and informal support of children; how they navigate welfare and child support regulations; how incarceration shapes family relationships and stability, and the consequences of debt for disadvantaged men and their families.

Funding for Waller's research has been provided by the NICHD, NSF, NIFA, the WT Grant Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California, the Cornell Population Center, the Institute for Social Sciences, and the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell University.

Current Public Engagement Activities:
  • Parents Apart Advisory Committee, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • PAM Extension Committee
  • Service learning courses with Cornell Cooperative Extension (PAM 3120 and PAM 4950)


PhD in Sociology, Princeton University

Courses Taught:

PAM 3120/ SOC 3150:  Research Design, Practice and Policy
PAM 3350: Families, Poverty and Public Policy
PAM 4160/SOC 4160: The Ethnography of Poverty and Inequality
PAM 4950: Capstone Projects Course
PAM 6040: Qualitative, Survey & Mixed Method Approaches to Policy Research

Administrative Responsibilities:

Cornell University Faculty Senate
Provost's Office of Faculty Development and Diversity Advisory Board
College of Human Ecology Diversity Committee
College of Human Ecology Nominations Committee

Selected Publications:


Waller, Maureen R. (2002). My Baby's Father: Unmarried Parents and Paternal Responsibility. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. [book

[Google book preview]


Turner, Kimberly and Maureen R. Waller (2017, online 2016). "Indebted Relationships: Child Support Arrears and Nonresident Fathers' Involvement with Children." Journal of Marriage and Family, 79(1): 24-43.

Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod and Maureen R. Waller (2015).  "Taxing the Poor: Incarceration, Poverty Governance, and the Seizure of Family Resources." Perspectives on Politics, 13(3): 638-656.

Waller, Maureen R. and Maggie R. Jones. (2014). "Who is the Residential Parent? Understanding Discrepancies in Unmarried Parents' Reports."  Journal of Marriage and Family, 76: 73-93.

Waller, Maureen R. and Allison Dwyer Emory. (2014) "Parents Apart: Differences between Unmarried and Divorcing Parents in Separated Families." Family Court Review, 52: 686-703.

Waller, Maureen R. (2012) "Cooperation, Conflict, or Disengagement? Coparenting Styles and Father Involvement in Fragile Families. Family Process, 51: 325-342.

McHale, James, Waller, Maureen R. and Pearson, Jessica. (2012). "Coparenting Interventions for Fragile Families: What Do We Know and Where Do We Need to Go Next?" Family Process, 51: 284-306.

Waller, Maureen R. (2010). "Viewing Low-Income Fathers' Ties to Families through a Cultural Lens: Insights for Research and Policy." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 629: 102-124. [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. (2009). "Family Man in the Other America: New Opportunities, Motivations, and Supports for Paternal Caregiving." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol 624, No. 1, 156-176 (2009) [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. and H. Elizabeth Peters. (2008) "The Risk of Divorce as a Barrier to Marriage among Parents of Young Children." Social Science Research 37(4): 1188-1199. [paper]

Waller, Maureen R. (2008). "How Do Disadvantaged Parents View Tensions in their Relationships? Insights for Relationship Longevity among At-Risk Couples." Family Relations 57(2): 128-143. [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. and Marianne Bitler. (2008). "The Link between Couples’ Pregnancy Intentions and Behavior: Does It Matter Who Is Asked?" Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 40(4): 194-201. [abstract]

Swisher, Raymond and Maureen Waller. (2008). “Confining Fatherhood: Incarceration and Paternal Involvement among Nonresident White, African-American and Latino Fathers.” Journal of Family Issues 29(8): 1067-1088. [abstract]

Crowley, Jocelyn E., Margaret Watson, and Maureen R. Waller. (2008). Understanding "Power Talk:" Language, Public Policy, and Democracy. Perspectives on Politics  6(1): 71-88. [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. and Raymond Swisher. (2006). Fathers' Risk Factors in Fragile Families: Implications for "Healthy" Relationships and Father Involvement. Social Problems. 53 (3): 392-420. [paper]

Waller, Maureen R. and Sara S. McLanahan. (2005). "His" and "Her" Marriage Expectations: Determinants and Consequences. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67: 53-67. [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. and Robert Plotnick. (2001). "Effective Child Support Policy for Low-Income Families: Evidence from Street Level Research". The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20(1): 89-110. [abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. (2001). "High Hopes: Unwed Parents' Expectations about Marriage." Children and Youth Services Review, 2

Selected Keywords:
poverty, family, fragile families, fatherhood, social policy, qualitative and mixed methods

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.