Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn's picture
Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child and Parent Development Education; Professor of Pediatrics, College of Physicians & Surgeons; Co-director, National Center for Children & Families
Teachers College, Columbia University
Professor Brooks-Gunn is a nationally-renowned scholar and expert whose research centers on family and community influences on the development of children and youth. She is interested in factors that contribute to both positive and negative outcomes (and changes in well-being) across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, with a particular focus on key social and biological transitions (in schooling, family structure and dynamics, parenthood, and puberty, sexual onset, and pregnancy) over the life course. Brooks-Gunn has also designed and evaluated interventions aimed at enhancing the well-being of children living in poverty and associated conditions. She has published over 500 articles and chapters, written 4 books, edited 13 volumes, and been the recipient of numerous major awards and honors. Brooks-Gunn’s research has significantly shaped our understanding of child development and the influence of parents, schools and contextual factors. For example, her research has demonstrated the deleterious consequences of economic deprivation (especially deep and persistent poverty) during early childhood for later child and adolescent outcomes, including health, behavior, cognitive ability and schooling. Another body of work has assessed how maternal employment affects child well-being; Brooks-Gunn and her co-authors have found that mothers’ working full-time in the first year after a baby’s birth is linked to lower cognitive and behavioral scores in middle childhood, especially for Whites (although these effects are offset by increases in income from working in families with lower household incomes and are also mediated by maternal responsivity in parenting and child care experiences). A third example of Brooks-Gunn’s contribution is her research on successful pathways through adolescence and various complicating factors, such as early childbearing; Brooks-Gunn and colleagues have highlighted the overlapping domains of adolescent development and the multiple contexts in which it occurs, drawing implications for the design of effective interventions to support youth in diverse circumstances.

Research Group: 

Selected Media: