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 face of retirement as the baby boomers enter old age, 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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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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5:15am

Tue August 16, 2011
Around the Nation

Study: Are Cohabiting Parents Bad For Kids?

Originally published on Tue August 16, 2011 12:01 am

iStockphoto.com

As more and more U.S. couples decide to have children without first getting married, a group of 18 family scholars is sounding an alarm about the impact this may have on those children.

In a new report out on Tuesday, they say research shows the children of cohabiting parents are at risk for a broad range of problems, from trouble in school to psychological stress, physical abuse and poverty.

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12:01am

Mon July 18, 2011
Economy

AARP Finds Toll On Family Caregivers Is 'Huge'

iStockphoto.com

A new study by the AARP estimates that for the more than 40 million Americans caring for an elderly or disabled loved one, the value of their work is $450 billion a year.

That's a good deal for society. But for the family members doing the work, the study finds they need a lot more help.

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7:43am

Sun July 3, 2011
Business

Workplace Atmosphere Keeps Many In The Closet

Despite momentum for same-sex marriage in legislatures, the courts and public opinion, there's one place that seems out of step with this shift: the workplace. A recent study finds that about half of gay and lesbian white-collar workers are not "out" when they're in the office.

The change was abrupt for Todd Sears. He says he had nothing but positive experiences after coming out in high school. In college, he was even the openly gay rush chairman at a conservative Southern fraternity. But all that changed two weeks after Sears landed a job on Wall Street.

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1:10pm

Thu June 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Men Now Have More 'Work-Life Conflict' Than Women, Study Says

Dads feel stretched thin too. (A father and child hold hands.)
iStock Photography

Though it may come as a surprise to stressed-out working moms, a new report says American men now experience more work-life conflict than women. The Families and Work Institute tries to explain why in a study, The New Male Mystique, that takes its cue from Betty Friedan.

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12:01am

Wed June 8, 2011
Digital Life

Is Sexting Cheating? Read This Before You Hit Send

iStockphoto.com

On Monday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) announced he had tweeted to the world a lewd photo of himself he had meant to send to one woman privately.

For many, the reaction to Weiner's lewd photo texts has been disgust and bewilderment. But the phenomenon is more common than you may think. Even the AARP has covered the trend, with the headline: "Sexting Not Just for Kids."

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3:10pm

Mon June 6, 2011
Law

Conn. Poised To Be First State To Mandate Sick Pay

As many Americans watch their job benefits shrink amid tight budgets, Connecticut is about to defy the trend: It's set to become the first state to mandate paid sick days for some low-wage workers.

Across the country, 40 million people have no paid sick time, and advocates now see momentum for a national movement.

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12:01am

Tue May 31, 2011
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Egg Freezing Puts The Biological Clock On Hold

Robyn Ross and Mark Cohen with their baby, Camden, who's here thanks to eggs Robyn froze several years ago when she was single.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

This story is part of an occasional series.

As more women postpone motherhood into their 30s, even 40s, they're hitting that age-old constraint: the biological clock. Now, technology is dangling the possibility that women can stop that clock, at least for a while.

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12:01am

Tue May 31, 2011
Making Babies: 21st Century Families

Nudging Young Women To Think About Fertility

iStockphoto.com

Since 2004, when Christy Jones launched Extend Fertility, the first U.S. company to market egg freezing as a lifestyle choice, thousands have contacted her and hundreds have undergone the procedure. But there's a troublesome disconnect.

The average age of those inquiring is 34 1/2, an ideal time to put one's biological clock on hold. But the average age of the women who actually freeze their eggs is 37 1/2, the upper edge of the recommended range.

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10:12am

Mon May 30, 2011
NPR Story

Study: Revamp Workday To Combat Obesity Problem

A new study suggests that efforts to address the obesity epidemic should include dramatically changing the workday. Some are already dong so, using treadmill desks at work to burn calories. And in Portland, Ore., city officials are trying to get desk-bound workers up and about.

6:16am

Mon May 30, 2011
Health

Obesity And The Workplace

A new study links rising rates of obesity to the increasingly sedentary workplace.

5:46pm

Mon May 23, 2011
Around the Nation

As Seniors Increase, A Push To Make Streets Safer

Cities like Charlotte, N.C., are moving to improve roadways for pedestrians and cyclists. Above, a street project on Rozzelles Ferry Road, which now has bike lanes and extended sidewalks. Below, an aerial photo of the intersection before work began.
National Complete Streets Coalition

America is aging — a fact that advocates are pushing Congress to consider as it takes up a new transportation bill. Their goal is more safety for older Americans, on both roads and sidewalks.

Pedestrians and cyclists are already far more likely to be hit by cars in the United States than those in some European cities. Add to that the coming tide of older Americans who use walking canes and wheelchairs, and some warn that a road safety crisis looms.

Countdown: Crossing A Busy Street

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12:01am

Wed May 11, 2011
Health

Making Parenthood A Reality Through IVF Grants

Originally published on Fri May 20, 2011 5:18 pm

Carla Van Devander's son, Jackson, was conceived through in vitro fertilization that was financed by a scholarship from a nonprofit organization.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

This story is part of an occasional series.

Today, couples who may never have become parents a generation ago have the wonders of technology to help them. One in every hundred babies in the U.S. is conceived in a laboratory. But because most insurance does not cover fertility treatments, a big barrier remains: money.

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3:00pm

Thu April 14, 2011
Health

Study: Mandated IVF Coverage Means Fewer Multiples

The rate of twins and triplets in the U.S. has soared 70 percent in recent decades, thanks in large part to new technologies to overcome infertility. But the rise in multiple births means more premature babies and health complications.

Now, a new study finds that providing insurance coverage for fertility treatments means fewer multiple births.

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