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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3:47am

Wed October 17, 2012
Health Care

Home Health Aides Often As Old As Their Clients

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 12:03 pm

Onether Lowery, 80, (standing) is a home health aide for Rosalie Lewis, 86. As a whole, the aides are largely female and far older than women in the general workforce.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

In a red brick rambler in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., Onether Lowery begins her daily shift as a caregiver. She skillfully helps 86-year-old Rosalie Lewis into her electric wheelchair, holding her from the back, then bending over to ease her down.

It's an impressive feat: Lowery herself is 80 years old.

"My mother, she was 89 when she passed away," Lowery says. "I took care of her and I just fell in love with older people. I get along with them very well."

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4:37pm

Tue October 16, 2012
Economy

Home Health Aides: In Demand, Yet Paid Little

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 3:29 pm

Home health aide trainees Marisol Maldonaldo (center) and Nancy Brown (right), shown here with assistant instructor Miguelina Sosa, are studying to join one of the nation's fastest growing yet also worst paid sectors of the workforce.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

The home care workforce — some 2.5 million strong — is one of the nation's fastest growing yet also worst paid. Turnover is high, and with a potential labor shortage looming as the baby boomers age, there are efforts to attract more people to the job.

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4:45pm

Wed September 26, 2012
It's All Politics

New Groups Make A Conservative Argument On Climate Change

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 10:22 am

Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis now runs the Energy and Enterprise Initiative.
Energy and Enterprise Initiative

One topic you don't hear much about from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is climate change. Like so much else, it's become politically divisive, with polls showing Republicans far less likely to believe in it or support policies to address it.

But two new groups aim to work from within, using conservative arguments to win over skeptics.

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3:35am

Thu September 13, 2012
Around the Nation

Can Marriage Save Single Mothers From Poverty?

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 2:05 pm

New census figures showing a link between single motherhood and poverty have some analysts touting marriage as a means to curb poverty. But others say it's not so simple.
iStockphoto.com

Newly released census figures show a long-standing and glaring contrast: A third of families headed by single mothers are in poverty, and they are four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor. The disparity is on the rise, and as the number of single mothers grows, analysts are debating if more marriages could mean less poverty.

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4:27pm

Tue August 7, 2012
Around the Nation

Would-Be Parents Wait As Foreign Adoptions Plunge

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 3:15 pm

Mike Cannata with 2-year-old Bella. Mike and his wife, Barb, brought Bella home from Bulgaria this past spring after spending five years attempting to adopt.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

When Barb and Mike Cannata adopted their first daughter from China almost a decade ago, the process was smooth and relatively quick — just 17 months from start to finish.

Now a chatty and confident 9-year-old, Emma is an accomplished equestrian with her show horse, Ajax. But the family had trouble explaining to Emma why it took so long to get her a little sister.

When the Cannatas decided to adopt again in 2007, Barb Cannata says, everything had changed. They ruled out China early on.

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4:25pm

Mon July 16, 2012
Economy

Call Me Maybe When Your School Loan Is Paid In Full

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 5:12 pm

Some young adults say their student loan debt affects their dating and marriage potential. A few have had partners break up with them over debt, while other couples forge ahead, but keep finances separate and avoid legal marriage.
iStockphoto.com

The increasing debt load of college graduates has affected young people's lives in untold ways, from career choices to living arrangements. Now add another impact on a key part of young adult life: dating and marriage.

Rachel Bingham, an art teacher in Portland, Maine, learned this a few years back, when a guy broke it off after four months of a budding relationship. Among other reasons, he cited her $80,000 in student loan debt.

"He said it scared him," she recalls, "that it really made him anxious. And he just did not want to take on my responsibility."

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5:51am

Sat June 30, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Buried In Debt, Young People Find Dreams Elusive

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 7:32 am

Michelle Holshue racked up $140,000 in student loan debt while training to become a public health nurse. She's living her dream of helping others, she says, but never expected it "to be so hard."
Emily Bogle NPR

Growing up near Philadelphia, Michelle Holshue's dream was to serve those in need. Applying to nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania seemed like a smart move — in 2007.

Nursing jobs were plentiful. The students' running joke was that hospital executives would soon be stopping them in the street, begging them to come to work.

Then the economy tanked. For a time, Holshue was an Ivy League grad on unemployment and food stamps.

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3:02am

Tue June 19, 2012
U.S.

Single Dads By Choice: More Men Going It Alone

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 3:22 pm

Brian Tessier, who adopted two children as a single father, with son Ben. Tessier has started a hotline for prospective single dads.
Erika Hart Courtesy of Brian Tessier

B.J. Holt always wanted to be a dad. As he approached 40, with no life partner in sight, he felt a version of the ticking biological clock.

"The 'having the children thing' started to overwhelm the desire to have the relationship first," Holt says. "They sort of switched on me."

So Holt decided to go it alone. A few years ago, he used an egg donor and a surrogate to create a family of his own.

First came Christina, now 4, a strawberry-blond bundle of energy who loves to stage ballet performances in the living room of their New York City apartment.

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2:54am

Thu May 10, 2012
Economy

College Grads Struggle To Gain Financial Footing

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 4:48 am

Graduates of the University of Alabama's class of 2011. The economic downturn has hit recent college grads hard. New data show only half of those who graduated from 2006 to 2011 are working full time.
Butch Dill AP

Most of the estimated 1.5 million people graduating from a four-year college this spring will soon be looking for a job.

If the experiences of other recent college grads are any guide, many will be disappointed.

A new Rutgers University survey of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011 finds that just half of those grads are working full time.

Settling For Part Time

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3:23am

Fri April 20, 2012
Presidential Race

Working Moms' Challenges: Paid Leave, Child Care

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 8:55 am

Many working mothers say their employers don't support them when they need to tend to a sick child. In this file photo, a single mother holds her child at a health clinic in Colorado.
John Moore Getty Images

The past week's political firestorm in the presidential race focused on stay-at-home moms, but two-thirds of women with young children now work. Nearly half are their family's primary breadwinner. What some feel is being lost in the political debate are the challenges they face in the workplace.

When Kids Get Sick

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5:32pm

Fri April 13, 2012
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Ties That Bind: When Surrogate Meets Mom-To-Be

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:55 pm

Surrogate Whitney Watts had her son, J.P., while her husband, Ray Watts, was at sea with the Navy. Surrogacy experts say it's crucial for surrogates to have their own children because they'd presumably understand the emotions involved in bearing a child. The couple for whom Whitney carried twins paid for all expenses during the pregnancy, including private health insurance.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

Second in a four-part report

As she approached her sixth month of pregnancy last year, Whitney Watts' cervix had started to shorten. It's a common problem with twins. Watts was concerned, and was taking care not to overexert herself.

But it's probably fair to say her condition was far more frightening for Susan de Gruchy, the woman who had hired Watts to be a surrogate because she and her husband were unable to conceive. Nearly 400 miles away, de Gruchy was obsessed with worry.

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4:29pm

Fri April 13, 2012
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Legal Debate Over Surrogacy Asks, Who Is A Parent?

William Stern holds his daughter, then known as Baby M, in 1987. The Sterns' surrogate tried to keep the baby after she was born. Their court battle became the first public debate about surrogacy.
M. Elizabeth Fulford AP

Third in a four-part report

These days it can take a village to create a child. Technology means someone who never thought they'd be able to conceive can use a sperm donor, an egg donor and a surrogate — a woman who bears a child for someone else. But the law has not kept pace with technology, and with so many people involved, a key question remains: Who is a legal parent?

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5:23pm

Wed April 11, 2012
Your Money

Your (Virtual) Future Self Wants You To Save Up

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 9:22 pm

Professor Hal Hershfield (left), 32, uses a computer program to get an idea of what he might look like at 70 (right).
Chinthaka Herath Courtesy of Hal Hershfield

A retirement crisis is looming. As people live longer, one study finds that half of all households are at risk of coming up short on retirement money. And while many working households may feel they simply don't have enough to spare for retirement, experts say some of the biggest barriers to saving up are psychological.

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11:01am

Thu February 23, 2012
All Tech Considered

CU In Court: Texts Can Be A Divorce Lawyer's Dream

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 6:36 pm

iStockphoto.com

Americans have learned to carefully craft their Facebook postings, and edit and spell-check e-mails. But apparently we don't give text messages much thought, and they're providing abundant and effective fodder for divorce attorneys.

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4:10pm

Mon February 6, 2012
Around the Nation

Helicopter Parents Hover In The Workplace

Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 7:33 pm

As the millennial generation enters the workforce, employers report that parents are taking an increasingly active role advocating on behalf of their children.
Images Bazaar Getty Images

So-called helicopter parents first made headlines on college campuses a few years ago, when they began trying to direct everything from their children's course schedules to which roommate they were assigned.

With millennial children now in their 20s, more helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace, sometimes even phoning human resources managers to advocate on their child's behalf.

Megan Huffnagle, a former human resources manager at a Denver theme park, recalls being shocked several years ago when she received a call from a young job applicant's mother.

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1:45pm

Tue December 27, 2011
All Tech Considered

Tutors Teach Seniors New High-Tech Tricks

At Pace University in New York, college students who tutor seniors in local retirement homes are prepped with sensitivity training. Brittany Beckett (left), a Pace student, and Muriel Cohen work together at United Hebrew of New Rochelle.
Courtesy of Pace University

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Oregon, the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

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12:01am

Wed December 14, 2011
Around the Nation

When It Comes To Marriage, Many More Say 'I Don't'

Marriage — it's so last century. A new report finds that the share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to its lowest on record.
iStockphoto.com

The share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to a record low 51 percent, according to a new report. If the trend continues, the institution will soon lose its majority status in American life.

The report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds new marriages dropped a sharp 5 percent last year, which is very likely related to the bad economy. Pew senior writer D'Vera Cohn says it fits with a larger trend.

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5:21pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

To Keep Marriage Healthy When Baby Comes, Share Housework

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 5:24 pm

A survey identifies traits, like generosity, that help couples buck the trend toward marital discord once baby arrives.
iStockphoto

As many couples can attest — and lots of research backs this up — marital happiness plummets with the arrival of a baby. Sleepless nights, seemingly endless diaper changes and the avalanche of new chores that come with a newborn leave little time for the intimacies of marriage. It's a situation ripe for mental stress and marital discord.

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12:01am

Thu December 1, 2011
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Many Women Underestimate Fertility Clock's Clang

Kate Donnellon Nail, 43, works out regularly and eats well. She never thought she would have a problem conceiving a child.
Courtesy of Kate Donnellon Nail

A new survey finds a big disconnect when it comes to fertility. The age women think they can conceive a baby is far different from what their bodies are actually capable off. This poses an increasing problem, as more women wait longer than ever to have children.

Kate Donnellon Nail never imagined she'd have trouble conceiving. For one thing, people always tell the San Francisco musician she looks much younger than her 43 years.

"I work out regularly, I have a personal trainer," she says. "I've been doing yoga for 15 years."

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3:11pm

Tue November 22, 2011
Around the Nation

Parenting Advice For The 20-Something Years

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 5:53 pm

Brian Griffith (left), shown here in 2009 at age 26, moved home with his parents, Jay and Jennifer Griffith, after losing his job. The tight job market, especially for college grads, has prompted many young adults to move back in with their parents.
Robert Lahser MCT /Landov

From pregnancy on, parents often keep a stack of bedside reading full of advice on raising children — survival tips from the terrible toddler years through annoying adolescence. Los Angeles comedy writer Gail Parent figured she'd be done with all that once her kids turned the magical age of 21.

"Because I didn't tell my parents anything bad or negative," she says. "I let them be very peaceful about me when I was an adult. But I had told my kids to tell me everything when they were young."

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3:00pm

Mon November 7, 2011
Economy

Report: Wealth Gap Widens Between Old And Young

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 8:04 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. We've been hearing a lot lately about the gap between rich and poor in this country. Well, now a new angle on that gap between young and old. Research out today finds that older Americans are significantly better off than seniors a generation ago, but young adults have fallen dramatically behind.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.

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5:00am

Sat November 5, 2011
Generational Politics: Silents to Millennials

Generation X Divided Over 2012 Candidates

Generation Xers — grown up now and in their 30s and 40s — are feeling hardest-hit by the recession, and are the most divided over the presidential candidates for 2012, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

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3:50pm

Thu October 27, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

Workplaces Feel The Impact of Obesity

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 7:03 pm

This office chair was custom-built by a company called ErgoGenesis for a client who exceeded the 600-pound limit of its other chairs. It cost $1,800.

Courtesy of ErgoGenesis

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

From cubicle farms to auto factories, accommodating larger and heavier employees has become a fact of life. One in three U.S. adults is obese, and researchers say the impact on business can be boiled down to a number: $1,000 to $6,000 in added cost per year for each obese employee, the figure rising along with a worker's body mass index.

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2:29pm

Thu October 27, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

Corporations Offer Help In Trimming The Waist

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 7:04 pm

To encourage healthy choices, Dow's corporate cafeteria features color-coded utensils. Healthy foods like broccoli, spinach and beets have green handles. Yellow handles mean caution, and red is for temptations like bacon bits and high-fat dressing.

Jennifer Ludden NPR

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Economy

School Debt A Long-Term Burden For Many Graduates

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.

Butch Dill AP

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

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2:40pm

Wed September 28, 2011
Life In Retirement: The Not-So-Golden Years

Saving For Retirement: How Much Do You Need?

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 7:04 pm

More than half of Americans are at risk of not having enough money for basic expenses in retirement, experts say.
iStockphoto.com

By some counts, fewer than half of Americans have ever tried to calculate how much they'll need for retirement. And those who do? In one recent survey, half told pollsters they just guessed.

A new poll for NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds retirement is proving more difficult than expected for many Americans, in large part because they haven't saved enough. So we set out to ask: How much do you need?

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3:32am

Tue September 27, 2011
Retirement In America: The Not-So-Golden Years

Retirement: Reality Not As Rosy As Expectations

According to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, life in retirement is better or the same as it was before, but it is worse for a substantial minority in key areas, including health and finances.
David Goldman AP

Americans pride themselves on being optimistic. But Robert Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that may not be such a good thing when it comes to planning for retirement. For many Americans, it is proving harder than they imagined, according to a a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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3:00pm

Mon September 19, 2011
NPR Story

Study: Thousands Of Immigrant Women Forced Into Marriage

A new study finds 3,000 cases of young immigrant women being forced into marriage — across 47 U.S. states — and it suggests the issue is dramatically underreported. Those who refuse can face threats of violence, ostracism from their families, and financial repercussions that can lead to homelessness. Yet, advocates say there is very little legal recourse in this country.

4:01am

Sun September 18, 2011
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Donor-Conceived Children Seek Missing Identities

Kathleen LaBounty, here with her daughter, Lexi, has been searching for her biological father.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Second in a two-part report.

Sperm donation has long been shrouded in secrecy, and that seemed in the best interest of both the donors and the couples who used their sperm. But now a generation of donor-conceived children has come of age, and many believe they should have the right to know who their biological parents are.

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3:45am

Sat September 17, 2011
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

A New Openness For Donor Kids About Their Biology

Originally published on Sat September 17, 2011 9:52 am

Tina and Patrick Gulbrandson, with their daughter, Waverly.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

First in a two-part report.

Women inseminated with a donor's sperm used to be advised to tell no one. Go home, doctors said, make love to your husband and pretend that worked. But in a trend that mirrors that of adoption — from secrecy to openness — more parents now do plan to tell such children how they were conceived and are seeking advice on how best to do that.

Tina Gulbrandson understands the temptation of secrecy. She felt stigma and pain when she needed to use another woman's eggs to get pregnant.

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