Jennifer Karas Montez

Professor of Sociology and Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar in Aging Studies, Syracuse University

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About Jennifer

Montez's research focuses on the troubling trends in population health in the United States since the 1980s and the growing influence of state policies and politics on those trends. A major focus of this work has been understanding why the trends are particularly worrisome for women, for people without a college degree, and for those living in states in the South and Midwest. Montez serves on the Board of Directors of the Population Association of America and Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science.

In the News

"What Does Your College Major Say About Your Future Health?," Jennifer Karas Montez, Interview with Marcus Charleston, KJZZ, June 7, 2018.
Jennifer Karas Montez quoted by Tom Jacobs, "Your College Major Predicts Midlife Health" Pacific Standard, January 11, 2018.
Jennifer Karas Montez's research on the decline in U.S. life expectancy discussed by "U.S. Life Expectancy Falls, as Many Kinds of Death Increase," U.S. News & World Report, December 8, 2016.
Jennifer Karas Montez's research on how U.S. states are more consequential for women’s than men’s mortality discussed by "New Clues in the Mystery of Women’s Lagging Life Expectancy," New York Times, August 22, 2016.
"What’s Killing White American Women?," Jennifer Karas Montez, BBC World Service, May 10, 2016.
Guest to discuss life expectancy on National Public Radio (WCPN Affiliate), Jennifer Karas Montez, June 9, 2014.
Jennifer Karas Montez's research on why mortality increased for low-educated U.S. women discussed by "Joblessness Shortens Life Span of Least Educated White Women, Research Says," New York Times, May 30, 2013.
"72 is the New 30," Jennifer Karas Montez, The Situation Room, CNN, February 26, 2013.
Jennifer Karas Montez quoted on why life expectancy is declining for U.S. whites, "Life Span Shrinks for Least Educated Whites in the U.S." New York Times, September 20, 2012.


"Contextualizing the Social Determinants of Health: Disparities in Disability by Educational Attainment across U.S. States" (with Anna Zajacova ). American Journal of Public Health (forthcoming, 2017).

Shows the gap in the probability of having a disability between adults without a high school credential and college graduates is much larger in certain states partly because low-educated adults are more often poor and living in poor communities in those states. 

"Explaining Inequalities in Women's Mortality between U.S. States" (with Mark D. Hayward and Anna Zajacova). Social Science & Medicine 2 (2016): 561-571.

Systematically examines the large inequalities in women's mortality between U.S. states using a multilevel approach, focusing on “fundamental” social determinants of mortality at the individual and state levels as potential explanations.

"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.

"Work-Family Context and the Longevity Disadvantage of U.S. Women" (with Pekka Martikainen, Mauricio Avendano, and Hanna Remes). Social Forces 93, no. 4 (2015): 1567-1597.

Presents evidence that U.S. women have shorter lives than Finnish women in large part because the paltry supports for working parents in the U.S. prevent many women, especially low-educated women, from engaging in paid employment.

"Cumulative Childhood Adversity, Educational Attainment, and Active Life Expectancy among U.S. Adults" Demography 51, no. 2 (2014): 413-435.

Establishes that childhood socioeconomic conditions have long-term effects on physical functioning in later life, but that an individual’s own education level matters more.

"Explaining the Widening Education Gap in Mortality among U.S. White Women" (with Anna Zajacova). Journal of Health and Social Behavior 54, no. 2 (2013): 165-181.

Documents that the growing gap in mortality between lower-educated and higher-educated women is in large part due to unfavorable trends in employment and smoking among lower-educated women.