M. Berger

Lawrence M. Berger

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chapter Member: Wisconsin SSN

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About Lawrence

Berger conducts research that focuses on how economic resources, sociodemographic characteristics, and public policies influence parental behaviors as well as child and family welfare. Through his work, he seeks to enhance the capacity of public policy in improving family resources and functioning, and contributing to children’s development and wellbeing within suitable environments. As part of these efforts, he often resorts to multiple statistical methods in order to analyze data from a range of large-scale datasets. Lawrence Berger is currently serving as Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty and is a fellow at the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. 


In the News

Guest on University of the Air, January 10, 2016.
Guest on IRP Podcasts, September 2015.


"Families at the Intersection of the Criminal Justice and Child Protective Services Systems" (with Maria Cancian, Laura Cuesta, and Jennifer L. Noyes). ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 665, no. 1 (2016): 171-194.

Describes the incidence and prevalence of incarceration and CPS involvement in the United States, and outlines the reasons that the same individuals and families may be at risk for involvement in both systems. Uses unique longitudinal data from Wisconsin to describe intergenerational and intragenerational overlap in the two systems. 

"Income, Relationship Quality, and Parenting: Associations with Child Development in Two-Parent Families" (with Sara McLanahan). Journal of Marriage and Family 77, no. 4 (2015): 996-1015.

Examines whether differences in the benefits associated with these factors might also account for some of the variation in children’s cognition and social-emotional development. Finds that children living in stepfather families experienced above-average levels of parental relationship quality and parenting quality and that associations of factors such as income, parental relationship quality, and parenting quality with child development are relatively consistent across family types.

"Parental Debt and Children’s Socioemotional Wellbeing" (with Jason Houle). Pediatrics 137, no. 2 (2016).

Demonstrates that unsecured debt is associated with poorer child social-emotional wellbeing, whereas this is not the case for parental education debt and home debt. 

"Is Student Loan Debt Discouraging Home Buying among Young Adults?" (with Jason Houle). Social Service Review 89, no. 4 (2015): 589-621.

Utilizes data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to estimate associations of student loan debt with homeownership, mortgage amount, and home equity. Finds limited evidence that student loan debt is responsible for declining young adult homeownership, but that indicators for the recession and transition to adulthood markers have a stronger association with homeownership.

"Child Maltreatment and Children’s Developmental Trajectories in Early- to Middle-Childhood" (with Sarah A. Font). Child Development 85, no. 2 (2015): 536-556.

Examines associations between experiencing child maltreatment and poor developmental outcomes between birth and age 9. Finds that effects of early childhood maltreatment emerge immediately, though developmental outcomes are also affected by newly occurring maltreatment over time.