Montez-led study linking state policies to life expectancy in LA Times

Could where you live dictate how long you live? A new study led by Professor of Sociology Jennifer Karas Montez, published in the Milbank Quarterly, illustrates how state-level policies impact life expectancy, with residents of blue states living longer on average than their red state counterparts. “The difference between the highest and lowest life expectancy states has grown to 7.0 years—the largest ever recorded.”

Montez tells the Los Angeles Times, “When we look at what is happening with life expectancy, the tendency is to focus on individual explanations about what Americans are doing,” she said, noting obesity and smoking behaviors as well as drug use. “But state policies are so important.” She is quoted in the article People live longer in blue states than red; new study points to impact of state policies.

More coverage:

WAER: SU Maxwell Professor: State Policies Driving Gaps in Life Expectancy

Daily DemocratLiberal policies, like California’s, keep blue-state residents living longer, study finds

NIA funds multi-university aging and policy center

A consortium of three upstate New York universities has received a 5-year, $1.5-million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to fund the Center for Aging and Policy Studies (CAPS), headquartered at Syracuse University. The NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health, issues such grants to support centers of innovative research on the demography and economics of aging.

“We are delighted to receive this NIA grant, as it recognizes CAPS as one of the leading research centers on the demography and economics of aging in the country,” says Jennifer Karas Montez, who serves as director of the Center and PI for the grant. Montez, a sociologist, is Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar in Aging Studies in the Maxwell School and a faculty associate in Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute (ASI). “The cross-site consortium provides exciting opportunities for new collaborations that can improve the health and independence of older adults.”

The CAPS consortium includes Syracuse, Cornell University, and the University at Albany.  In addition to Montez, the CAPS cross-site leadership team includes, also at Syracuse, Janet Wilmoth, sociologist and director of ASI, and Douglas Wolf, demographer and Gerald B. Cramer Professor of Aging Studies. The leadership team is completed by Kelly Musick, demographer and chair of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, and Benjamin Shaw, associate dean for research at the School of Public Health at UAlbany.

The overarching goal of CAPS is to improve the health, well-being, and independence of older adults by addressing issues facing middle-age and older adults and the families that care for them. In its first year, the center will bring together 39 scholars from across the three sites whose research focuses on the demography and economics of aging, organized by the themes of (A) health and well-being and (B) family and intergenerational supports. It will fund innovative pilot projects and will offer a colloquia series, visiting scholars program, grant mentoring program, state-of-the-art methods training, and a research incubator to foster collaborations among CAPS affiliates.

This is the third time that CAPS has received funding from the NIA. Previous grants were awarded in 1994-99 and 2009-14 when CAPS was single institution center at Syracuse. For more information, please go to

COVID-19: See what ASI Faculty/Affiliates are saying about the Pandemic

Scott Landes talks to NPR and Spectrum News about COVID-19, people with disabilities

Scott Landes, says COVID-19 death rates are higher among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) compared to those without. He says it’s mainly individuals with pre-existing health conditions. “This population, in general, either because of swallowing problems or disorders, or choking disorders, or just more susceptibility to lung infections seems to develop pneumonia at a higher rate than those in the general population,” he says. “That’s just really detrimental when you’re talking about something like COVID-19.” Landes was interviewed for the Spectrum News segment “COVID-19 Death Rates Higher Among Those with Developmental Disabilities.

NPR Interview: COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities

Today Show:

Madonna Harrington Meyer was quoted in two articles that have received wide media pick up

Madonna Harrington Meyer was quoted in two articles that nearly 70 media outlets picked up. The NPR article, “Too little or too much time with the kids? Grandparenting is tough in a Pandemic.” and The Kaiser Health News article, “We miss them all so much: Grandparents ache as the COVID exile grinds on.”


Madonna Harrington Meyer quoted in New York Times article, “For Grandparents, Filling in for Childcare can be ‘Wonderful and Exhausting’

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on and child care centers remain closed, many grandparents are split into two groups: those who are quarantined from their families and those who are isolating beside them, according to Madonna Harrington Meyer, a sociology professor at Syracuse University and author of “Grandmothers at Work.” Those providing child care can see tremendous benefits — more physical activity, a healthy emotional life, more socializing — but the additional stressors can also lead to burnout. “It’s simultaneously wonderful and too much,” Meyer said.

Read full article here.

Social Gerontologist Maria Brown Shares Advice on Caring for Aging Parents During an Pandemic

As people all over the world deal with the coronavirus pandemic, many wonder how to care for aging parents. Adults aged 60 or older, especially those with severe chronic medical conditions, are at higher risk for more serious coronavirus illness and death.

Maria Brown, an assistant research professor at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and faculty associate in the University’s Aging Studies Institute, offers advice on how to help care for aging parents or family members. To read full article click here.

Brown was also interviewed for an article on, “Do These 4 Things for Your Parents During Coronavirus Outbreak.”

Shannon Monnat and the Lerner Center produced a series of Lerner Center Population Health Research Briefs on COVID-19

Shannon Monnat, and the Lerner Center staff and graduate students, have produced an excellent series of Lerner Center Population Health Research Briefs on COVID-19, several of which focus on the older population. Contributing authors include Shannon Monnat, Madonna Harrington Meyer, Scott Landes, Dalton Stevens, Kent Cheng, and Yue Sun.

Check them out at: 


College of Law, Associate Professor Doron Dorfman wrote an Op Ed on COVID-19 impact on FDA Policy for Gay blood donors

Optimism among public health scholars is rare in the era of coronavirus. Yet I suggest that the crisis might present an opportunity to overrule one controversial health law policy that predates the pandemic: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men.

The blood ban was developed out of necessity in response to the 1980s HIV-AIDS outbreak and has since undergone some amendments. The recent iteration of the ban forbids blood banks from accepting donations from men who have had sex with men, or MSM, in the year prior to the donation. To read full article click here. The article was also accepted to the peer review Journal of Law and the Biosciences.

Syracuse University is currently doing a research project and they need your help!

The project is examining mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, while we’re all dealing with the closures, restrictions, social distancing and being isolated in our homes. Researchers are using an online questionnaire to learn about depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD, working to find out what conditions and behaviors might influence mental health. One of the main behaviors that researchers are interested in is physical activity and aspects related to it. To read full article click here.

CNY Central Article: SU Faculty conduct survey to find affects of COVID-19 on mental illness

To paricipate in the anonymous survey, click here.

ASI Faculty Associate Scott Landes COVID-19 research featured on NPR

COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities

People with intellectual disabilities and autism who contract COVID-19 die at higher rates than the rest of the population, according to an analysis by NPR of numbers obtained from two states that collect data. They also contract the virus at a higher rate, according to research looking into group homes across the United States.

In Pennsylvania, numbers obtained by NPR show that people with intellectual disabilities and autism who test positive for COVID-19 die at a rate about twice as high as other Pennsylvania residents who contract the illness.

In New York, the state with the most deaths from COVID-19, people with developmental disabilities die at a rate 2.5 times the rate of others who contract the virus.

The numbers in Pennsylvania are compiled by the Office of Developmental Programs of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and count people who get state services while living in group homes, state institutions or in their own homes. As of June 2, there were 801 confirmed cases and 113 deaths among people with intellectual disabilities and autism. In New York, NPR calculated data obtained from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Of people who get state services from that office, 2,289 have tested positive for COVID-19 and 368 have died.

The high rate of death “is disturbing, but it’s not surprising,” says Scott Landes, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Read full article: COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities




ASI Faculty Affiliate Nina Kohn on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nina Kohn wrote a piece in The Hill, “Nursing homes need increased staffing, not legal immunity.”

The piece explains how states are eviscerating protections for nursing home residents by granting providers immunity from negligence claims, and why this approach is not only dangerous but unjustified.

To read the full article click here.

ASI Faculty Affiliate, Nina Kohn wrote an Op Ed in The Hill, “Addressing the crisis in long- term care facilities.”

Bodies are piling up in long-term care facilities across the country and spiraling death rates show no signs of subsiding. These facilities are prime breeding grounds for infection. In addition to residents’ inherent vulnerability, measly sick leave policies encourage staff to come to work sick, and low pay leads direct care workers to hold multiple jobs — often at other long-term care facilities.

The result is staff are nearly perfect vectors for COVID-19, as outbreak patterns in Seattle suggest. Indeed, even prior to the pandemic, most nursing homes — including those earning “five stars” on the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare website — had documented infection control problems.  To read the full article click here.

Nina Kohn addresses how ageism has shaped the COVID-19 pandemic in Washington Post article

When the novel coronavirus first emerged, the U.S. response was slowed by the common impression that covid-19 mainly killed older people. Those who wanted to persuade politicians and the public to take the virus seriously needed to emphasize that “It isn’t only the elderly who are at risk from the coronavirus,” to cite the headline of a political analysis that ran in The Washington Post in March. The clear implication was that if an illness “merely” decimated older people, we might be able to live with it. Read full article: The pandemic exposed a painful truth: America doesn’t care about old people






ASI Faculty and Student Presentations at the 2019 Gerontological Society of America Conference

The 2019 GSA Annual Scientific Meeting was held in Austin, Texas, from November 13 to 17, 2019, with the theme, “Strength in Age—Harnessing the Power of Networks.”

The following was the Schedule for the ASI Faculty and Student Presentations.

Wednesday, November 13

Authors: Blakelee Kemp and Jennifer Karas Montez
Abstract Title: Geo-Life Course Determinants of Educational Disparities in U.S. Health
Symposium: Early-Life Influences on Later-Life Health
Time: 4:30 PM  to 6:00 PM
Location: 5B, Level 3

Thursday, November 14

Authors: Janet M. Wilmoth, Scott D. Landes, and Andrew London
Abstract Title: The Health of Male Veterans in Later Life
Symposium: Archives of Gerontlology and Geriatrics: Men’s Health and Aging
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: 4BC, Level 3

Authors: Sarah Mawhorter and Jennifer Ailshire
Abstract Title: Housing Affordability and Inter-Regional Moves Among Older Adults
Poster: Environment and Aging
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4, Level 1

Authors: Joonsik Yoon
Abstract Title: Avoidant Filial Piety in Korean Immigrant Families: When Do We Talk About Mom and Dad?
Poster: Environment and Aging
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4, Level 1

Authors: Claire Pendergrast, Basia Belza, Ann Bostrom and Nicole Errett
Abstract Title: Building Disaster Resilience for Older Adults Aging in Place: The Role of Community-Based Organizations
Poster: SRPP Section Student Poster Award Finalists
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4, Level 1

Authors: Scott Landes and Dalton Stevens
Abstract Title: Comparison of age and Biological Sex Mortality Trends Between Adults With and Without Down Syndrome
Symposium: Defining Health Outcomes for Adults Aging with Disability
Time: 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Location: 6A, Level 3

Authors: Vern Bengtson, Merril Silverstein and Camille Endacott
Abstract Title: Spiritual and Religious Change in Later Life
Symposium: Religion, Spirituality, and Aging
Time: 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Location: 13B, Level 4

Friday, November 15

Authors: Janet M. Wilmoth, Scott D. Landes, and Andrew S. London
Abstract Title: Veteran Mortality Disadvantage among Rural, Suburban, and Urban Residents
Symposium: Gaps and Opportunities to Improve Access to Healthcare for Older Rural Veterans
Time: 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: 18C, Level 4

Authors: Merril Silverstein
Abstract Title: Of Values and P-Values: Using Mixed Methods to Study Families and Religion in the Longitudinal Study of Generations
Symposium: Applying Mixed-Methods Approaches to the Study of Social Ties in Later Life
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Location: 19AB, Level 4

Authors: Kent Cheng and Janet Wilmoth
Abstract Title: Socioeconomic Determinants of Informal Caregiving in India
Poster: Family Caregiving II
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4, Level 1

Authors: Yooumi Lee
Abstract Title: Interrelationships Among Collective Orientation, Attitudes Toward Intergenerational Support and Co-Residence
Poster: Attitudes Toward Aging
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4, Level 1

Saturday, November 16

Authors: Ynesse Abdul – Malak and Madonna Harrington Meyer
Abstract Title: Grandparenting Children With Disabilities and Its Impact on Grandparent Health
Paper: Roles and Experiences of Grandparenting
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: 5A, Level 3 (CC)

Authors: Merril Silverstein, Dongmei Zuo
Abstract Title: 4 Pattern of Health-Related Behaviors and Resources as Predictor of Medical Care and Mortality Risk Among Older Adults
Poster: Health Risk Behaviors
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: EH – 4. Level 1

Authors: Mengting Li, Man Guo, Meredith Stensland, Merril Silverstein, and XinQi Dong
Abstract Title: Typology of Family Relationships and Elder Mistreatment in a U.S. Chinese Population
Symposium: Deconstructing the Model-Minority Myth of U.S. Asians: Determinants and Consequences of Elder Mistreatment
Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: 7, Level 3

Sunday, November 17

Authors: Maria Brown
Abstract Title: Early Identification of Cognitive Impairment Among Vulnerable Older Adults Living at Home
Paper: Cognitive Functioning Among Diverse Populations
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Location: 11A, Level 4

GSA 2019 Program Book

ASI faculty and students at GSA

Yooumi Lee
Ph.D. student Yooumi Lee
Kent Cheng
Ph.D. student Kent Cheng
Dalton Stevens
Ph.D. student Dalton Stevens
Janet Wilmoth at GSA
Director of ASI Janet Wilmoth
Maria Brown at GSA
Maria Brown granted Fellow Status at GSA 2019


Jennifer Karas Montez awarded R24 grant from NIH National Institute of Aging

Jennifer Karas Montez was awarded a R24 grant from the NIH National Institute of Aging. The R24 mechanism provides infrastructure support for advancing specific high-priority areas of behavioral and social research of relevance to aging. These are highly competitive 5-year grants, awarded to only 7 teams across the country.

Jennifer is the Co-PI on a renewal of the highly successful NIA R24 Network on Life Course Health Dynamics and Disparities in 21st Century America. the purpose of this Network is to stimulate research and disseminate data and analytic resources to better understand trends and disparities in U.S. adult health and longevity across the life course and different geographic contexts.