Rachel Dunifon


Rachel Dunifon

Professor, and Associate Dean for Research and Outreach
1300 F Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: 607-255-6535 Fax: 607-255-4071
Email: red26@cornell.edu
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Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

Rachel Dunifon is a Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management.  She is also the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach for the College of Human Ecology. She received her PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 1999.  Her research focuses on child and family policy.

Current Professional Activities:

Dunifon is an active member of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the Population Association of America, the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and the Cornell Population Center. 

Current Research Activities:

Dunifon studies child and family policy, with a focus on factors influencing the development of less-advantaged children.  Specific research topics include the relationship between maternal employment conditions and children's health and development; the well-being of children in various family living arrangements, such as single-parenthood and cohabitation; and the role of grandparents in the lives of youth.

Her work has been supported by a wide range of sources.  Rachel was awarded a 5-year grant from the William T. Grant Foundation's Scholar's program to study the role of grandparents in the lives of youth.  She is examining whether and how grandparents influence youth; whether living with a grandparent benefits youth living in a single-parent family; and how children fare when they are raised by their grandparents.

Dunifon was also awarded an R01 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study the influence on children of maternal employment patterns.  Many mothers working low-wage jobs must work evenings or weekends, have little control over their schedules, or have long commutes.  Dunifon's work examines how these factors influence children's health and development, parents and family routines. 

Rachel's research has been published in Demography, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Marriage and Family

Current Public Engagement Activities:

As Associate Dean for Research and Outreach, Rachel provides leadership for the College of Human Ecology's Outreach and Extension activities.

Rachel Dunifon provides campus leadership to Cornell Cooperative Extension parent educators throughout the state as faculty leader of the Parenting in Context Project


Ph.D. 1999 - Northwestern University, Human Development & Social Policy
M.A. 1998 - Northwestern University, Human Development & Social Policy
B.A. 1994 - Davidson College, Psychology, cum laude

Related Websites:

Parenting in Context Project: www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/parenting/index.cfm
“Welfare Reform and Intergenerational Mobility”. A report for the Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Mobility Project. http://www.economicmobility.org/assets/pdfs/EMP_TANF%2015.pdf
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Google Scholar Page

Administrative Responsibilities:

Associate Dean for Research and Outreach, College of Human Ecology

Selected Publications:




Crosnoe, Rob and Rachel Dunifon (forthcoming). “A Developmental Perspective on the Link Between Parents’ Employment and Children’s Obesity”. American Psychologist.


Su, Jessica and Rachel Dunifon (2016). “Nonstandard Schedules and Private Safety Nets Among Working Mothers”. Journal of Marriage and Family. DOI:10.1111/jomf.12358


Meier, Anne, Kelly Musick, Sarah Flood and Rachel Dunifon (2016). “Mothering Experiences: How Single-Parenthood and Employment Shift the Emotional Valence of Parenting”. Demography, 53: 649-674.


Pilkauskas, Natasha, and Rachel Dunifon (2016). “Understanding Grandfamilies: Characteristics of Grandparents, Nonresident Parents, and Children”. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78: 623-633. 


Su, Jessica, Rachel Dunifon, and Sharon Sassler (2015). “Better for Baby? The Retreat from Mid-Pregnancy Marriage and Implications for Parenting and Child Well-Being”. Demography, 52(4): 1167-1194.


Kalil, Ariel, Rachel Dunifon, Danielle Crosby and Jessica Su (2014). “Work Hours, Work Schedules and Sleep Duration Among Mothers and their Young Children”. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(5): 891-904.


Healy, Olivia and Rachel Dunifon (2014). “Child Care Subsidies and Family Well-Being”. Social Service Review, 88(3): 493-528.


Dunifon, Rachel, Kathleen Ziol-Guest and Kimberly Kopko (2014). “Grandparental Co-Residence and Family Well-Being: Implications for Research and Policy”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 654: 110-126.


Ziol-Guest, Kathleen and Rachel Dunifon (2014). “Complex Living Arrangements and Child Health: Examining Family Structure Linkages with Children’s Health Outcomes”. Family Relations, 63: 424-437.


Dunifon, Rachel, Ariel Kalil, Danielle Crosby, Jessica Houston Su, and Thomas DeLeire (2013). “Measuring Nonstandard Work in Survey Data”.   Journal of Marriage and Family, 75: 523-532.


Dunifon, Rachel, Ariel Kalil, Danielle Crosby and Jessica Su (2013). “Mothers’ Night Work and Children’s Behavior Problems”. Developmental Psychology, 49(10): 1874-1885.


Dunifon, Rachel (2013). “The Influence of Grandparents in the Lives of Children and Adolescents”, Child Development Perspectives, 7(1): 55-60. 


Ziol-Guest, Kathleen, Rachel Dunifon and Ariel Kalil (2013). “Parental Employment and Children’s Body Weight: Mothers, Others, and Mechanisms”, Social Science and Medicine, 95: 52-59.




Wethington, Elaine & Rachel Dunifon (2012). Research for the Public Good:  Applying the Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well-Being. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 


Johnson, R.C., Kalil, A., & Dunifon, R. (2010). Mothers’ Work and Children’s Lives: Low-Income Families After Welfare Reform. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

* Named as a “Noteworthy book for 2010” by Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section

Selected Keywords:
Child and Family Policy, Social Policy, Maternal Employment, Grandparents, Children's Living Arrangements

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