J. Lawrence Aber

Professor of Applied Psychology

J. Lawrence Aber

Phone: 212-998-5410

Curriculum Vitae/Syllabi

Lawrence Aber is Willner Family Professor in Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and University Professor, New York University, where he also serves as board chair of its Institute of Human Development and Social Change. Dr. Aber earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and an A.B. from Harvard University. He previously taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, and at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where he also directed the National Center for Children in Poverty. He is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy and has co-edited Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children (1997, Russell Sage Foundation), Assessing the Impact of September 11th 2001 on Children Youth and Parents: Lessons for Applied Developmental Science (2004, Erlbaum) and Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action (2007, APA Publications). His basic research examines the influence of poverty and violence, at the family and community levels, on the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and academic development of children and youth. Dr. Aber also designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of innovative programs and policies for children, youth and families, such as violence prevention, literacy development, welfare reform and comprehensive services initiatives. Dr. Aber testifies frequently before Congress, state legislatures and other deliberative policy forums. The media, public officials, private foundations and leading non-profit organizations also frequently seek his opinion or advice about pressing matters concerning child and family well-being. In 2006, Dr. Aber was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Commission for Economic Opportunity, an initiative to help reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in New York City. In 2007, Dr Aber served as the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2008 and 2009, he served part-time as Visiting Research Professor in Evidence-based Social Interventions in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford. He is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and served as consultant to the World Bank on its project, “Children and Youth in Crisis”. From 2003-2006, Dr. Aber chaired the Advisory Board, International Research Network on Children and Armed Conflict of the Social Science Research Council, in collaboration with the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. Currently, he conducts research on the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on children’s development in South Africa (in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council), and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).


  • Nicholas Hobbs Award for Devotion to Child Advocacy and Public Policy: Awarded by Division 37 of the American Psychological Association.
  • Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation

Video Profile

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. Yale University 1982
    Clinical-Community and Developmental Psychology
  • M.S. Yale University 1978
    Clinical-Community and Developmental Psychology
  • A.B. Harvard College 1973
    Social Relations


  • APSY-GE 3009 - Theories of Change in Applied Psychology
  • Developmental and Prevention Science: Middle Childhood
  • APSY-GE 2832 - Child Development and Social Policy in a Global Society
  • APSY-GE.2279 - Risk and Resilience: Science for Practice
  • Proseminar in Education Science

Selected Publications

  • Aber, J.L., J. Lombardi, S. Klaus, and K. Campion (2013). A new global development goal for the world's youngest children. Commentary, Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC., (link)
  • Aber, J.L., Biersteker, L., Dawes, A., & Rawlings, L. (2013). Social Protection and Welfare Systems: Implications for Early Childhood Development. In Pia R. Britto, Patrice Engle, Charles Super, Lonnie Sherrod, & Nurper Ulkuer (Eds.) Fulfilling Every Child’s Potential: How Research Can Inform Global Policy. (pp 260-274). Oxford, UK: Oxford Press.
  • Aber, J.L. Grannis, K.S., Owen, S., & Sawhill, I. (2013). The Social Genome Project: Middle Childhood Success and Economic Mobility. Brookings Institute. (link)
  • Aber, L., Morris, P., & Raver, C. (2012). Children, Families and Poverty: Definitions, Trends, Emerging Science and Implications for Policy. Social Policy Report volume 26, number 3: Publication of the Society for Research in Child Development. (view)
  • Maurizi, L.K., Gershoff, E.T., & Aber, J.L. (2012). Item-Level Discordance in Parent and Adolescent Reports of Parenting Behavior and Its Implications for Adolescents’ Mental Health and Relationships with their Parents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence (19 January 2010), 1-18. (link)
  • Vuchinich, S., Flay, B.R., Aber, L., & Bickman, L. (2012). Person mobility in the design and analysis of cluster-randomized cohort prevention trials. Prevention Science, 13(3), 300-313.
  • Aber, J.L. (2012). Poor and Low-Income Families, Infant/Toddler Development and the Prospects for Change: Back to the Future. In Samuel L. Odom, Jr., Elizabeth Pungello, and Nicole Gardner-Neblett (Eds.). Infants, Toddlers, and Families in Poverty: Research Implications for Early Child Care. (pp 3-18). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J.L., & Beardslee, W.R. (2012). The Effects of Poverty on Children’s Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health: Implications for Prevention. American Psychologist,67(4), 272-284.
  • Godfrey, E.B., Osher, D., Williams, L.D., Wolf, S., Berg, J.K., Torrente, C., Spier, E., & Aber, J.L. (2011). Cross-national measurement of school learning environments: Creating indicators for evaluating UNICEF’s Child Friendly Schools Initiative. Children and Youth Services Review, 01749. (link)
  • Aber, J.L., & Rawlings, L.B. (2011). North-South Knowledge Sharing on Incentive-based Conditional Cash Transfer Programs. SP Discussion Paper No. 1101. Washington, DC: The World Bank
  • Aber, L., Brown, J.L, & Jones, S.M., Berg, J. & Torrente, C. (2011). School-based strategies to prevent violence, trauma and psychopathology: The challenges of going to scale. Development and Psychopathology, 23(2011), 411-421.
  • Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L., & Aber, J.L. (2011). Two-Year Impacts of a Universal School-Based Social-Emotional and Literacy Intervention: An Experiment in Translational Developmental Research. Child Development, 82(2), 533-554.
  • Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L, Hoglund, W.L.G., & Aber, J.L. (2010). A School-Randomized Clinical Trial of an Integrated Social-Emotional Learning and Literacy Intervention: Impacts on Third-Grade Outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(6), 829-842.
  • Gershoff, E.T., Aber, J.L., Ware, A., & Kotler, J.A. (2010). Exposure to 9/11 Among Youth and Their Mothers in New York City: Enduring Associations with Mental Health and Sociopolitical Attitudes. Child Development, 81(4), 1141-1160.
  • Brown, J.L., Jones, S.M., LaRusso, M.D., & Aber, J.L. (2010). Improving Classroom Quality: Teacher Influences and Experimental Impacts of the 4Rs Program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 153-167.
  • Aber, J.L. & Chaudry A. (2010). Low-Income Children, Their Families and the Great Recession: What Next in Policy? Urban Institute (link)
  • Aber. L., Brown, J., Jones, S., & Roderick, T. (2010). SEL: The history of a research–practice partnership. Better: Evidence-based Education, 2(2), 14-15.
  • Aber, J.L., Hammond, A.S. & Thompson, S.M. (2010). U.S. Ratification of the CRC and Reducing Child Poverty: Can We Get There from Here? Child Welfare, 89(5), 159-175.
  • Gershoff, E.T., Pederson, S. & Aber, J.L. (2009). Creating Neighborhood Typologies of GIS-Based Data in the Absence of a Neighborhood-Based Sampling: A Factor and Cluster Analytic Strategy. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 37(1), 35-47.
  • Aber, J.L. (2009). Experiments in 21st century antipoverty policy. Public Policy Review 16 (1), 57-63.
  • Gershoff, E.T., Aber, J.L. & Clements, M. (2009). Parent Learning Support and Child Reading Ability: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis for Developmental Transactions. In A. Sameroff (Ed.) The Transactional Model of Development: How Children and Contexts Shape Each Other (pp. 203-220). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Gershoff, E.T., Aber, J.L. & Clements, M. (2009). Parent Learning Support and Child Reading Ability: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis for Developmental Transactions. In A. Sameroff (Ed.) The Transactional Model of Development: How Children and Contexts Shape Each Other (pp. 203-220). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • LaRusso, M.D., Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L., & Aber, J.L. (2009). School Context and Micro-Contexts: The Complexity of Studying School Settings. In L.M. Dinella (Ed.) Conducting Science-Based Psychology Research in Schools (pp. 175-197). Washington, DC: APA Books.
  • Aber, J.L, Berg, J., Godfrey, E., & Torrente, C. (2009). Using Child Indicators to Influence Policy: A Comparative Case Study. In. S.B. Kamerman, S. Phipps & A. Ben Arieh (Eds.). From Child Welfare to Child Well-Being: An International Perspective on Knowledge in the Service of Making Policy (pp.189-215). The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
  • Aber, J.L, Berg, J., Godfrey, E., & Torrente, C. (2009). Using Child Indicators to Influence Policy: A Comparative Case Study. In. S.B. Kamerman, S. Phipps & A. Ben Arieh (Eds.). From Child Welfare to Child Well-Being: An International Perspective on Knowledge in the Service of Making Policy (pp.189-215). The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
  • Aber, J.L. (2008). A Big, New Investment in America's Poorest (and Youngest?) Children: Conditional Cash Transfers. In BIG IDEAS For Children: Investing in our Nation's Future (pp. 191-202). Washington, DC: First Focus. (link)
  • Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L., & Aber J.L. (2008). Classroom Settings as Targets of Intervention and Research. In M. Shinn & H. Yoshikawa (Eds.) Toward Positive Youth Development: Transforming Schools and Community Programs (pp 58-77). UK: Oxford University Press, Inc.
  • Clements, M., Aber, J.L., & Seidman, E. (2008). The Dynamics of Life Stressors and Depressive Symptoms in Early Adolescence: A Test of Six Theoretical Models. Child Development 79(4), 1168-1182.
  • Aber, J.L. (2007). Across the Sectors: Commentary. Border Crossings: On the Relations Between the Major Age-Graded Education Systems in the United States. In S.H. Fuhrman, D.K. Cohen & F. Mosher (Eds.). The State of Education Policy Research (pp. 225-229). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Aber, J.L. (2007). Changing the climate on early Childhood. The American Prospect, Special Report, December 2007, A4-A6.
  • Aber, J.L., Bishop-Josef, S.J., Jones, S.M., McLearn, K.T. & Phillips, D.A, (Eds.) (2007). Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • Gershoff, E. T., Aber, J. L., Raver, C. C., & Lennon, M. C. (2007). Income is not enough: Incorporating material hardship into models of income associations with parenting and child development. Child Development, 78(1), 70-95.
  • Aber, J.L., Jones, S.M., & Raver, C.C. (2007). Poverty and child development: New perspectives on a defining issue. In Aber, J.L., Phillips, D., Jones, S.M. and McLearn, K. (Eds.) Child development and social policy: Knowledge for action (pp. 149-166). Washington, DC: APA Publications.
  • Raver, C. C., Gershoff, E. T., & Aber, J. L. (2007). Testing equivalence of mediating models of income, parenting, and school readiness for White, Black, and Hispanic children in a national sample. Child Development, 78(1), 96-115.
  • Wagmiller, R.L., Lennon, M.C., Kuang, L., Alberti, P.M., & Aber, J.L. (2006). The Dynamics of economic disadvantage and children's life chances. American Sociological Review, 71(5), 847-866.
  • Aber, J.L., and Gershoff, E. , Ware, A., & Kotler, J. (2004). Estimating the effects of September 11th, 2001, and other forms of violence on the mental health and social development of New York City's youth: A matter of context. "Applied Developmental Science", 8(3), 111-129.
  • Brown, J.L., Roderick, T., Lantieri, L., & Aber, J.L. (2004). The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program: A School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Program. In J. E. Zins, R.P. Weissberg, M.C. Wang, & H.J. Walberg (Eds,), "Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? (pp.151-169). New York, NY: Teachers College Press
  • Gershoff, E.T. , Aber, J.L., & Raver, C.C. (2003). Child poverty in the U.S.: An evidence-based conceptual framework for programs and paolicies. In R. M. Lerner, F. Jacobs, & D. Wertlieb (Eds.), "Promoting positive child, adolescent, and family development: A handbook of program and policy innovations", (pp. 81-136). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications
  • Aber, J.L., Brown, J.L. & Jones, S. M. (2003). Developmental trajectories toward violence in middle childhood: Course, demographic differences, and response to school-based intervention. "Developmental Psychology." 39 (2), 324-348
  • Aber, J.L., Gershoff, E.T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2002). Social exclusion of children in the United States: Identifying potential indicators. In A.J. Kahn, & S.B. Kamerman (Eds.) "Beyond child poverty: The social exclusion of children", (pp.245-286). New York: Columbia
  • Aber, J.L., & Ellwood, D.T. (2001). Thinking about children in time. In B. Bradbury, S. Jenkins, & J. Micklewright (Eds.), "The dynamics of child poverty in industrialized countries", (pp. 281-299). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press
  • Ben-Arieh, A., Kaufman, H.N., Andrews, B.A., George, R., Lee, B.J., & Aber, J.L. (2000). Measuring and Monitoring Children's Well-Being. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press.
  • Aber, J.L., Jones, S.M., & Cohen, J. (2000). The impact of poverty on the mental health and development of very young children. In C.H. Zeanah, Jr. (Ed.), "Handbook of infant mental health, second edition", (pp. 113-128). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Brooks-Gunn, J. Duncan, G. & Aber, J.L. (Eds.) (1997). Neighborhood Poverty I: Context and consequences for children. New York: Russell Sage.
  • Brooks-Gunn, J., Duncan, G. & Aber, J.L. (Eds.) (1997). Neighborhood Poverty II: Policy implications for studying neighborhoods. New York: Russell Sage

Research Interests

Dr. Aber has focused his research on the social, emotional, motivational and behavioral development of high-risk children and youth, including abused/neglected and poor/disadvantaged preschool and school-aged children, and children and adolescents in areas of concentrated poverty and armed conflict; parent development; program and policy implications of developmental research with high-risk children and youth; the influence of neighborhood and family socio-economic disadvantage on parent and child development; developmental approaches to the design and evaluation of preventive interventions; policy research on child and family services.

Current Research Grants include:

  • Co-Investigator, "Health Risk Behavior in Late Childhood: Impact of a Longitudinal Randomized Trial".  This study proposes to rigorously test the effects of a long-term (3-year), school-randomized universal preventive intervention called 4R's (Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution) on children's health risk behaviors as they make the transition from elementary to middle school.  Funded by National Institutes of Mental Health (2008-2012).
  • Co-Principal Investigator, "Examining the Effectiveness of Scaling Up the 'First Things First' High School Reform".  The primary goal of this school-randomized experiment is to test the effects of a comprehensive high school reform model on the educational motivation, engagement and outcomes of youth in schools that serve a high percentage of low-income, ethnic-minority students.  Funded by USDE/IES; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2007-2013).
  • Principal Investigator, "Well-being of South African Children: Household, community and policy influences".  This project is a short-term, longitudinal, multi-level study of 1,800 7 - to 10-year-olds and their parents/parent surrogates in 24 urban and rural South African communities in KwaZulu-Natal to determine the impact of changes in families’ income and material disadvantage on children’s cognitive and social-emotional development and to examine the influence of grants and services on households and children. Funded by National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (2008-2013).
  • Principal Investigator, "The New York University (NYU) Predoctoral Training Program in Education Sciences".  This project will train 28 doctoral students from diverse backgrounds to become outstanding researchers in the educational sciences. This interdisciplinary fellowship program is designed to train the next generation of quantitative educational researchers in methodological techniques developed to more accurately identify educational effects through the utilization of randomized experimental designs, quasi-experimental methods and other statistical approaches appropriate for causal inference and the analysis of multi-level data on students, teachers, schools and developmental contexts.   Funded by the US Department of Education/ Institute on Education Sciences (2008-2013).
  • Co-Investigator, "Impact Evaluation of the OPEQ Intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo".  The primary goal of this project is to improve teachers' motivation and performance and elementary school children's numeracy, literacy and socio-emotional wellbeing in 3 provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (i.e., Katanga, North Kivu, South Kivu) through curriculum development, teacher training and community mobilization. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (2010-2015) and the Novo Foundation (2011-2013).
  • Co-Investigator, "Moderators, Mechanisms, Methods and Measurement in the Head Start Impact Study: Informing Head Start of the Future".  This project created a center to conduct secondary analysis of data from the Head Start Impact Study (HSIS).  These analyses will extend HSIS findings to address a key question if left unanswered: how are features of Head Start centers associated with variation in program impacts on key child outcomes of cognitive functioning, social-emotional skills, and health status?  Funded by the Administration for Children and Families (2011-2013).