Maureen Waller
Policy Analysis and Management

3225, Martha Van Rensselaer Hall



Maureen R. Waller is 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 is a sociologist who studies families, poverty, and social policy.  Waller's research has used a mixed methods approach to examine social and policy issues which deeply impact the lives of poor families. This work draws on hundreds of qualitative interviews she conducted with low-income mothers and fathers as well as national survey and policy data to provide new insight into the situations of parents at the forefront of family change and their experiences with the child support, welfare, family court, and criminal justice systems. One current project draws on qualitative interviews and survey data to explore low-income families' institutional intersectionality and the circumstances in which they decide to either avoid or engage with the family court system. A second mixed method project funded by the WT Grant Foundation with collaborators at BU and Rutgers, uses multiple data sources to investigate 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. In other collaborative work, she has been investigating how child support arrears and other forms of legal debt can destabilize disadvantaged families involved in the criminal justice and family court systems.

Funding for Waller's research has been provided by the WT Grant Foundation, NICHD, NSF, NIFA (USDA), 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.





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

[Google book preview]


Turetsky, Vicki and Maureen R. Waller. (2020). “Piling on Debt: The Intersections Between Child Support Arrears and Legal Financial Obligations" UCLA Criminal Justice Law Journal, Vol 4, 117-141

Waller, M.R., L. Nepomynyaschy, D.P. Miller, and M. Mingo. (2021) "Using a Narrative Approach to Analyze Longitudinal Mixed Methods Data." Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 

Dwyer Emory, A.., L. Nepomnyaschy, M.R. Waller, D.P. Miller, and A. Haralampoudis. (2020). “Providing after Prison: Nonresident Fathers' Formal and Informal Contributions to Children.” RSF: Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

Miller, D.P., M. Thomas, M.R. Waller, L. Nepomnyaschy, and Allison D. Emory. (2020).  Father Involvement and Socioeconomic Disparities in Child Academic Outcomes.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 82(2): 515-533. 

Waller, Maureen R. (2019). "Getting the Court in Your Business: Unmarried Parents, Institutional Intersectionality, and Establishing Parenting Time Orders in Family Court." Social Problems

 Waller, Maureen R., Allison Dwyer Emory and Elise Paul. (2018). “Money, Time or Something Else? Measuring Nonresident Fathers’ Informal and In-Kind Contributions.Journal of Family Issues. 39 (13): 3612-3640.

Waller, Maureen R. and Allison Dwyer Emory. (2018). "Legal Visitation Orders, Family Courts, and Fragile Families."  Journal of Marriage and Family. 80: 653-670. 

Turner, Kimberly and Maureen R. Waller (2017). "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. [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) [156-176 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. [SSR 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. [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. [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. [JFI 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. [PP 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. [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. [JMF 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. [JPAM abstract]

Waller, Maureen R. (2001). "High Hopes: Unwed Parents' Expectations about Marriage." Children and Youth Services Review, 23 (6/7): 457-484.

Waller is a member of the graduate fields of Public Policy, Sociology, and Public Affairs at Cornell University and holds a courtesy appointment in Sociology.  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 an original network member of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and serves as associate editor of Sociological Perspectives.



  • Cornell Engaged Scholar Prize, 2020
  • Engaged Cornell Opportunity Grant
  • Cornell Project 2-Gen Fellow
  • PAM Engaged Learning Capstone
  • PAM Extension Committee


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: PAM Engaged Learning Capstone
PAM 6040: Qualitative, Survey & Mixed Method Approaches to Policy Research



PhD in Sociology, Princeton University


College of Human Ecology Academic Integrity Hearing Board 



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