Douglas A. Wolf

Gerald B. Cramer Professor of Aging Studies, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, and Director of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies, Syracuse University

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About Douglas

Wolf’s research lies at the intersection of demography, gerontology, and public policy. His areas of expertise include changing family patterns and their consequences for living and care arrangements in late life; trends in late-life disability and the mix of family and formal care; and the health and worklife consequences of being a family caregiver. Wolf has served on the Government and Public Affairs Committee and the Board of Directors of the Population Association of America. He is a co-investigator for the National Health & Aging Trends Study, and has served on advisory boards of several data-collection and data-dissemination projects, as well as the editorial boards of several journals.


In the News

"Balancing Employment with Child and Elder Care: The Implications of Changing Workplaces and Families," Douglas A. Wolf, webinar jointly sponsored by the Population Association of America, Association of Population Centers, AARP, and Russell Sage Foundation, December 13, 2011.


"Disability-Free Life Expectancy Over 30 Years: A Growing Female Disadvantage in the US Population" (with Vicki Freedman and Brenda Spillman). American Journal of Public Health 106 (2016): 1079-1085.

Examines changes in active life expectancy in the United States from 1982 to 2011 for older men and women. For older men, longevity has increased, disability has been postponed to older ages, disability prevalence has fallen, and the percentage of remaining life spent active has increased. However, for older women, small longevity increases have been accompanied by even smaller postponements in disability, a reversal of a downward trending moderate disability, and stagnation of active life as a percentage of life expectancy. 

"Do U.S. States’ Socioeconomic and Policy Contexts Shape Adult Disability?" (with Mark D. Hayward and Douglas A. Wolf). Science & Medicine 178 (2017): 115-126.

Shows that states with stronger economic output, more income equality, and long histories of state supplemental Earned Income Tax Credit have much lower disability.

"Fiscal Externalities of Becoming a Parent" (with Ronald Lee, Timothy Miller, Gretchen Donehower, and Alexandre Genest). Population and Development Review 37, no. 2 (2011): 241-266.
Examines the lifetime distribution of taxes paid, and of publicly-funded benefits consumed, by two groups: parents (including their offspring) and “nonparents” (those who end up neither producing nor raising children). The net contribution to society – i.e., taxes paid minus benefits received – of parents exceeds that of nonparents by over $200,000
"Demographic Change and its Public Sector Consequences" (with Anna Amirkhanyan). Public Administration Review 70 (2010): S12-S23.
Addresses implications of projected changes in population size and age composition for state and county governments. The heterogeneity of population change implies responses in the mix of public service offerings, in public-sector governance, and in the size of the public-sector workforce.
"Linking Benefits to Marital Status: Race and Social Security in the U.S." (with Madonna Harrington Meyer and Christine Himes). Feminist Economics 11, no. 2 (2005): 145-162.

Reports that a majority of older women receive spouse or widow Social Security benefits, an entitlement based on their marital history rather than their work history. Finds that in the future, changing marital and divorce patterns imply that slightly smaller proportions of white and Hispanic women, but a dramatically smaller proportion of black women, will qualify for these benefits.

"Caregiver Stress and Noncaregiver Stress: Exploring the Pathways of Psychiatric Morbidity" (with Anna Amirkhanyan). The Gerontologist 43, no. 6 (2003): 817-827.
Critiques the highly prevalent view of caregiving as a stressful activity with adverse mental-health consequences; we show that much of what is commonly attributed to “caregiver stress” instead results from the fact that one’s loved ones (in our study: older parents) are disabled and in need of care. We find evidence of adverse health outcomes among noncaregivers whose parents need care services, a phenomenon we call “noncaregiver