Lawrence M. Berger

Position title: Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Social Sciences, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Social Work


Phone: (608) 263-6332

311 School of Social Work
1350 University Avenue

School of Social Work
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Curriculum vitae


I  am Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Social Sciences, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Social Work, and former Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research focuses on the ways in which sociodemographic characteristics, and public policies affect child and family wellbeing. I have engaged in studies in: (1) exploring relationships among socioeconomic factors (family structure and composition, economic resources), parentings, children’s development and wellbeing; (2) assessing the impacts of public policies on parental behaviors, and child and family wellbeing. To address these topics, I utilize a variety of advanced statistical techniques to analyze data from a range of large-scale datasets. My work aims to inform public policy in order to improve its capacity to assist families in accessing resources, improving family functioning and child wellbeing. My research is most closely related to CDE’s research areas of Fertility, Families and Households and the Demography of Inequality, and I serve on the CDE Executive Committee.

CDE research theme area affiliations

Demography of Inequality; Fertility, Families, and Households

Selected Publications

Pac, Jessica and Berger, Lawrence M. (in press). “Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Employment Effects of the 2021 Fully-Refundable Monthly Child Tax Credit.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Pac, Jessica, Durrance, Christine, Berger, Lawrence M., and Ehrenthal, Deborah. (2023). “Opioid Use During Pregnancy and Infant Health and Wellbeing.” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 703(1), 106-138.

Pac, Jessica, Collyer, Sophie, Berger, Lawrence M., O’Brien, Kirk, Parker, Elizabeth, Pecora, Peter, Rostad, Whitney, Waldfogel, Jane, and Wimer, Christopher. (2023). “The Effects of Child Poverty Reductions on Child Protective Services Involvement.” Social Service Review, 97(1), 43-91.

Berger, Lawrence M., Panico, Lidia, and Solaz, Anne. (2021). “The Impact of Center-Based Childcare Attendance on Early Child Development: Evidence from the French Elfe Cohort.” Demography, 58(2), 419-450.

Berger, Lawrence M., and Slack, Kristen S. (2020). “Understanding the Contemporary U.S. Child Welfare System(s): Overview and Key Challenges.” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 629(1), 7-25.

Slack, Kristen S., and Berger, Lawrence M. (2020). “Who Is and Is Not Served by Child Protective Services Systems? Implications for a Prevention Infrastructure to Reduce Child Maltreatment.” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 629(1), 182-202.

Berger, Lawrence M., and Carlson, Marcia J. (2020). “Family Policy and Complex Contemporary Families: A Decade in Review and Implications for the Next Decade of Research and Policy Practice.” Journal of Marriage and Family 82(1), 478-507.

Font, Sarah, Cancian, Maria, Berger, Lawrence M., and DiGiovanni, Anna (2020). “Patterns of Intergenerational Child Protective Services Involvement.” Child Abuse & Neglect, 99, 10427.

Berger, Lawrence M., and Houle, Jason. (2019). “Rising Household Debt and Children’s Socioemotional Well-being Trajectories.” Demography, 56(4), 1273-1301.

Berger, Lawrence M., Cancian, Maria, Guarin, Angela M., and Meyer, Daniel R. (2019). “Do Low-Income Noncustodial Fathers Trade Families? Economic Contributions to Children in Multiple Families.” Social Service Review, 93(2), 183-217.

Font, Sarah A., Cancian, Maria, and Berger, Lawrence M. (2019). “Prevalence and Risk Factors for Early Motherhood among Low-Income, Maltreated, and Foster Youth.” Demography, 56(1), 261-284.

Berger, Lawrence M., Panico, Lidia, and Solaz, Anne. (2018). “Maternal Repartnering: Does Father Involvement Matter? Evidence from the United Kingdom.” European Journal of Population, 34 (1), 1-31.

Font, Sarah A., Berger, Lawrence M., and Cancian, Maria. (2018). “Permanency and the Educational and Economic Attainment of Former Foster Children in Emerging Adulthood.” American Sociological Review, 83(4), 716-743.

Berger, Lawrence M., Font, Sarah A., Slack, Kristen S., and Waldfogel, Jane. (2017). “Income and Child Maltreatment in Unmarried Families: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1345-1372.

Bzostek, Sharon, and Berger, Lawrence M. (2017). “Family Structure Experiences and Child Development during the First Nine Years of Life: Examining Heterogeneity by Family Structure at Birth.” Demography, 54, 513-540.

Houle, Jason, and Berger, Lawrence M. (2015). “Is Student Loan Debt Discouraging Home Buying Among Young Adults?” Social Service Review, 84(4), 589-621.

Berger, Lawrence M. and McLanahan, Sara S. (2015). “Income, Relationship Quality, and Parenting: Associations with Child Development in Two-Parent Families.”  Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(4), 996-1015.