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.  After receiving a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University, Waller was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Current Professional Activities:

Waller is an affiliate of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), the Cornell Population Center (CPC), and the Center for the Study of Inequalilty (CSI).   She is also a research associate on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.

Editorial board, Journal of Marriage and Family

Current Research Activities:

Maureen Waller's research has examined the meaning of demographic changes 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 the experiences of unmarried parents entering family court and their perceptions of engaging the legal system to establish parenting time agreements

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 involvement with children 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.

Funding for Waller's research has been provided by NICHD, NSF, NIFA, 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 Extension Activities:

Parents Apart Advisory Committee
Child Custody Decisions in Low-Income Families, Principal Investigator


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 6040: Qualitative, Survey & Mixed Method Approaches to Policy Research

Administrative Responsibilities:

PAM Graduate Admissions Committee
College of Human Ecology Diversity Committee
Provost's Office of Faculty Development and Diversity Advisory Board

Selected Publications:


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

[Google book preview]


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

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. (2012) "Cooperation, Conflict, or Disengagement? Coparenting Styles and Father Involvement in Fragile Families. Family Process, Volume Number (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, Volume Number (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

Searchable Keywords:
poverty, family, social policy

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