NPR: Jennifer Ludden

Jennifer Ludden is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. She covers a range of stories on family life and social issues.

In recent years, Ludden has reported on the changing economics of marriage, the changing role of dads, the impact of rising student debt loads, and the ethical challenges of modern reproductive technology.

Ludden helped cover national security after the 9/11 attacks, then reported on the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as Congressional efforts to pass a sweeping legalization. She traveled to the Philippines for a story on how an overburdened immigration bureaucracy keeps families separated for years, and to El Salvador to profile migrants who had been deported or turned back at the border.

Prior to moving into her current assignment in 2002, Ludden spent six years as a foreign reporter for NPR covering the Middle East, Europe, and West and Central Africa. She followed the collapse of the decade-long Oslo peace process, shared in two awards (Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists) for NPR's coverage of the Kosovo war in 1999, and won the Robert F. Kennedy award for her coverage of the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When not navigating war zones, Ludden reported on cultural trends, including the dying tradition of storytellers in Syria, the emergence of Persian pop music in Iran, and the rise of a new form of urban polygamy in Africa.

Before joining NPR in 1995, Ludden reported in Canada, and at public radio stations in Boston and Maine.

Ludden graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in English and Television, Radio and Film Production.

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6:24pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Around the Nation

Going To College May Cost You, But So Will Skipping It

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:00 pm

A new study shows that the income gap between young adults who go to college and those who don't only continues to grow.
iStockphoto

In America, total student loan debt tops $1 trillion and a four-year college degree can cost as much as a house — leaving many families wondering if college is really worth the cost.

Yes, a new study of young people finds. The study, released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, looks at income and unemployment among young adults. Paul Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at Pew, says it's pretty much case closed when it comes to the benefits of going to college.

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3:04am

Wed January 1, 2014
The Salt

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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4:36pm

Thu December 26, 2013
News

With National Treasures At Risk, D.C. Fights Against Flooding

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:13 pm

The U.S. Capitol dome provides a view down the National Mall, an area vulnerable to flooding.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.

"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."

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5:24am

Sun December 1, 2013
Parallels

Five Things You May Not Know About Child Marriage

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:40 am

Arinafe Makwiti, 13, says her parents forced her to drop out of school and get married to an older man last year to help with the family finances. Makwiti has divorced her husband, but now has a 9-month-old daughter.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

NPR's Jennifer Ludden recently traveled to the African nation of Malawi, one of many countries in the developing world where child marriage remains prevalent. She found girls like Christina Asima, who was married at 12 and became a mother at 13. She is now divorced and caring for her infant son on her own. You can read Jennifer's full report here. Below are a few more things she learned while reporting on child marriage.

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9:47am

Mon November 25, 2013
Parallels

Can Child Marriages Be Stopped?

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 6:05 pm

Christina Asima says she had no choice but to marry last year at age 12 to help care for younger siblings after her mother abandoned the family. But she says her husband was abusive, so she left him, and now must look after her 8-month-old son, Praise, alone.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.

My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.

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3:32am

Thu August 29, 2013
The Salt

For Restaurant Workers, A Struggle To Put Food On The Table

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:27 am

Losia Nyankale helps daughter Jonessa and son Juliean learn the alphabet. Nyankale, who works in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., says she needs food stamps and child-care subsidies to make ends meet.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Losia Nyankale, 29, didn't mean to make a career in the restaurant business. But after Nyankale was in college for two years, her mom lost her job as a schoolteacher and could no longer pay tuition. Then, Nyankale's temp jobs in bookkeeping dried up in the recession. So she went back to her standby — restaurant work.

"I did some kitchen work. The pantries or the salad station," she says. "I've also managed, supervised, wash[ed] dishes."

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5:27pm

Wed August 14, 2013
Law

Jesse Jackson Jr. Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:40 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for using campaign funds to buy luxury goods. His wife also received a year in prison for filing false tax returns. Prosecutors called their joint crimes one of the worst abuses of campaign finance laws in recent memory. NPR's Jennifer Ludden was at the courthouse here in Washington, D.C.

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4:12pm

Thu July 18, 2013
NPR Story

Carbon Tax Gaining Popularity, But Not With Lawmakers

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 6:31 pm

The idea of taxing carbon emissions to curb climate change has been gaining surprisingly diverse and bipartisan support over the past year. Everywhere, that is, except Congress.

6:05pm

Mon July 15, 2013
Race

Zimmerman Verdict Feels Personal For Some In Service Sorority

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 7:54 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder greets Alexis Margaret Herman, member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, before speaking at the organization's convention.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Attorney General Eric Holder looked out over a sea of women in red on Monday and invoked his wife, a member of the influential African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta. Holder was addressing the sorority's national convention in its centennial year.

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6:00pm

Tue July 9, 2013
Law

Gays And Lesbians Turn Fight To Workplace Discrimination Ban

Esteban Roncancio and other protesters call for executive action on workplace discrimination for LGBT Americans in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

With new momentum for same-sex marriage from the Supreme Court, gays and lesbians are hoping for progress in another sphere: the workplace. In more than half the country, it's still legal to fire people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Wednesday, Senate lawmakers will once again debate a bill that would change that.

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6:10pm

Mon June 24, 2013
Environment

Congress Not Likely To Pass Sweeping Climate Legislation

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now to an issue that lawmakers are not spending a lot of time debating: climate change. Tomorrow, President Obama will lay out a strategy to address the problem, using executive powers. It's an admission that's sweeping climate legislation stands little chance of passing Congress as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Aides say Mr. Obama's plan includes limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The reaction from House Speaker John Boehner was blunt.

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2:26pm

Tue June 11, 2013
Law

Pushed Off The Job While Pregnant

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 8:20 pm

At a time when most pregnant women work, there are new efforts to keep companies from unfairly targeting employees because of a pregnancy. The allegations of pregnancy discrimination persist and have even risen in recent years despite a decades-old law against it, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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2:57pm

Thu May 30, 2013
Shots - Health News

Joblessness Shortens Life Expectancy For White Women

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 4:39 pm

Unemployment can be a health hazard.
unknown iStockphoto.com

At a time when many people live longer, it's been a mystery why white women without a high school diploma have been dying increasingly earlier those with more education.

A study in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior tries to understand this growing mortality gap, and finds two key factors: smoking — already well known as detrimental to life expectancy — and, more surprising, unemployment.

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3:46am

Tue May 28, 2013
Law

Alimony Till Death Do Us Part? Nay, Say Some Ex-Spouses

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 8:30 am

Alimony dates back centuries. The original idea was that once married, a man is responsible for a woman till death. But that notion has shifted in recent decades, as more women have jobs and their own money. Now, a number of states are considering laws to end lifetime alimony.

During his two-decade marriage, Tom Leustek's wife earned a Ph.D. and landed a job that paid as much as his. He's a college professor in New Jersey.

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5:32am

Wed May 15, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Stay-At-Home Dads, Breadwinner Moms And Making It All Work

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:21 pm

Dawn Heisey-Grove hands off Zane to Jonathan after a midday feeding. The couple were both working full time when Jonathan lost his job as a graphic designer two years ago.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

The next time you see a father out shopping with his kids, you might need to check your assumptions.

"I'll get the, 'Oh, look, it's a dad! That's so sweet!' "says Jonathan Heisey-Grove, a stay-at-home father of two young boys in Alexandria, Va., who is pretty sure the other person assumes he's just giving Mom a break for the day. In fact, he's part of a growing number of fathers who are minding the kids full time while their wives support the family and who say societal expectations are not keeping up with their reality.

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5:34am

Sun May 12, 2013
Around the Nation

Bombing Suspect's Lawyer A Quiet Defender Of The Notorious

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 7:11 pm

Defense Attorney Judy Clarke has defended Arizona mass shooter Jared Loughner, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
Gregory Bull AP

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Arizona mass shooter Jared Loughner all have one thing in common: defense attorney Judy Clarke. With her help, all three avoided the death penalty.

Clarke routinely faces an enraged public, top-notch prosecutors and difficult, often disturbed clients. Now, Clarke is soon to face those things again with another high-profile client, alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

With such notorious clients, you might assume Clarke is tough, aggressive and happy in the spotlight.

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4:35pm

Tue May 7, 2013
Environment

Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 2:50 pm

Cy Maramangalam gives a presentation about climate change for the Alliance for Climate Education.
Courtesy of Alliance for Climate Education

The auditorium at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., is packed when Cy Maramangalam strolls onstage, sporting jeans and a shaved head.

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4:49pm

Mon April 22, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Moving Out And Buying In: Single Ladies Emerge As Homeowners

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 10:38 am

First-time homeowner Amanda Cowley in her new home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. After married couples, single women are the largest demographic group of homebuyers.
Gabriella Demczuk NPR

It's hard to remember that just a few decades ago it was difficult, if not impossible, for a woman alone to take out a mortgage. Federal legislation changed that.

And yet, it's still surprising to learn how dominant single women have become in the housing market today: Their share is second only to married couples, and twice that of single men.

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3:31am

Wed March 27, 2013
Education

A Hot Topic: Climate Change Coming To Classrooms

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 1:29 pm

For the first time, new nationwide science standards recommend teaching K-12 students about climate change.
iStockphoto.com

By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new nationwide science standards due out soon will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about the climatic shift taking place.

Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap.

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4:53am

Fri March 22, 2013
Around the Nation

Kids' Voices Key On Both Sides Of Gay-Marriage Debate

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 3:21 pm

The Rev. Gene Robinson, along with his daughter Ella and partner Mark Andrew, attend a news conference after Robinson was confirmed as bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minneapolis in 2003. Robinson was the church's first openly gay bishop, and his daughter is an advocate for gay marriage.
Eric Miller Getty Images

When the Supreme Court takes up same-sex marriage next week, much of the debate will revolve around children. Opponents have long argued that kids' best interests require both a mom and a dad. Recently, however, more children of same-sex couples have started speaking out for themselves.

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12:27pm

Thu March 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Modern Parenthood: More Equal, More Stressed

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 1:50 pm

Maybe in the 1940s, they just let them cry.
Fox Photos Getty Images

If you've ever had a spousal spat over who logs more time on housework, child care, or at the office, you might want to see how you stack up against other couples.

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2:59am

Fri March 1, 2013
Business

Stay-At-Home Workers Defend Choice After Yahoo Ban

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 1:51 pm

Yahoo's sweeping edict against telecommuting has been felt as a personal attack by some of the two-thirds of Americans who regularly work from home.

Lawyer Shannan Higgins of Washington, D.C., finds one line of the company memo outlining the policy change particularly offensive: "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

For nearly a decade, Higgins has worked one day a week from the basement office in her rowhouse, where she takes pride in her work and is obsessed with efficiency.

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3:14am

Tue February 19, 2013
Environment

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 5:31 pm

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

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3:24am

Tue February 5, 2013
Health

FMLA Not Really Working For Many Employees

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 1:47 pm

Jeannine Sato holds her 2-year-old son, Keni; 5-year-old Hana is held by her father, Mas Sato. Jeannine decided to leave her job when her employers said she could take six weeks off after giving birth to her first child or risk losing her job.
Courtesy of Jeannine Sato

Twenty years after President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers' rights groups say many employees still must choose between their family or their job.

They're marking the anniversary with calls to expand the law, and for Congress to pass a new one that would provide paid leave.

What Falls Under The FMLA?

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12:34am

Wed January 30, 2013
U.S.

Debate Over Rebuilding Beaches Post-Sandy Creates Waves

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 12:49 pm

Ongoing beach nourishment, like this project in Viriginia Beach, has been the topic of debate. Some people say it's needed to protect beach communities; others decry the costs.
Pam Spaugy U.S. Army

For a half-century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been in the beach business, dredging up new sand as shorelines wash away. Federal disaster aid for Superstorm Sandy could provide billions more for beach rebuilding, and that has revived an old debate: Is this an effective way to protect against storms, or a counterproductive waste of tax dollars?

On a recent blustery day at Virginia Beach, the latest beach nourishment project is in full swing. A bulldozer smooths out pyramids of sand, and on the horizon, a large, black hopper dredge appears with another load.

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3:31pm

Thu December 27, 2012
U.S.

An Abundance Of Extreme Weather Has Many On Edge

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:40 pm

A parking lot full of yellow taxis is flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30 in Hoboken, N.J.
Charles Sykes AP

Opinion polls show 2012's extreme weather — producing wildfires, floods and drought — has more people making a connection with climate change. For Marti Andrews in southern New Jersey, a turning point was the summer's hurricane-like derecho.

"I don't want to say I freaked out about it, but holy crap, it scared me," she says. It packed winds up to 90 miles per hour and nonstop lightning, which Andrews says looked like some wild disco display in the sky.

"I've never seen anything like that," she says. "I sat there on the couch thinking, 'Oh my God, we're all gonna die!' "

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4:34pm

Wed December 26, 2012
U.S.

Debating The Impact Of An Immigration Crackdown

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

John Steinbach shows a day laborer in the parking lot of Ricos Tacos Moya a photo he took of him for an ID.
Lauren Rock NPR

In 2007, when Virginia's Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had "probable cause" to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya.

"Suddenly nobody showed up," says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. "Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing."

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3:20am

Thu December 13, 2012
U.S.

Finding A Child Online: How The Web Is Transforming Adoption

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 9:03 am

Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, have spent the past year looking to adopt. To speed up the arduous process, the couple built a website about their lives to draw in interested birth mothers.
Courtesy of Eric James

When Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, decided to adopt last year, they signed on with Adoptions Together, a reputable agency close to their home in Maryland. They attended the agency's seminars to learn about the process, met other "waiting parents" and formed personal bonds with the staff. But there was just one problem.

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5:37pm

Thu November 29, 2012
Around the Nation

In Wake Of Recession, Immigrant Births Plunge

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 6:45 pm

A new report finds the U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level on record. It's fallen twice as much among the foreign-born.
iStockphoto.com

A new report finds the U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level on record, led by a dramatic decline in births among immigrant women. The trend has been visible at La Clinica del Pueblo, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that holds a weekly neonatal clinic.

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3:57pm

Wed November 21, 2012
All Tech Considered

Parent Over Shoulder: Apps Help Mom Snoop Online, But Should She?

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 5:57 pm

As more teens get mobile devices, parents are using apps to track their every tweet and post.
iStockphoto.com

When his teenage son ventured into social media, Virginia father Mike Robinson wanted to make sure he could keep tabs on him. Robinson works in IT, so he rigged a surveillance system that works no matter what kind of device either of them is on.

"It's sort of like a version of remote desktop that enables you to run the program kind of silently in the background," Robinson says.

One day, checking in from his iPhone, Robinson discovered that his son had come across an adult meet-up site on Facebook.

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