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J. Lawrence Aber

Willner Family Professor of Psychology and Public Policy and University Professor (Spring 2021 Sabbatical)

Applied Psychology

(212) 998-5410

Lawrence Aber is Willner Family Professor of 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 and co-director of the international research center Global TIES for Children. Dr. Aber earned his PhD from Yale University and an AB 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 advises and consults with media, public officials, private foundations and leading non-profit organizations who 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 a member of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and was its Board Chair from 2008-2014. He 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); the impact of preschool teacher training quality and children’s learning and development in Ghana (in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action); and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Sierra Leone and Lebanon (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).

Selected Publications

  • Yoshikawa, H. Wuermli, A., & Aber, J.L. (2018, in press). Mitigating the Impact of Forced Displacement and Refugee and Unauthorized Migration on Youth: Integrating Developmental Processes with Intervention Research. In M. Suarez-Orozco & M Sondono (eds). Humanitarianism and Mass Migration: Confronting the World Crisis. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Aber, J.L., Tubbs, C., Torrente, C., Halpin, P.F., Johnston, B., Starkey, L., Shivshanker, A., Annan, J., Seidman, E., & Wolf, S. (2017). Promoting Children’s Learning and Development in Conflict-Affected Countries: Testing Change Process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 53-67.
  • Aber, J.L., Torrente, C., Starkey, L., Johnston, B., Seidman, E., Halpin, P., Shivshanker, A., Weisenhorn, N., Annan, J., & Wolf, S. (2017). Impacts After One Year of “Healing Classroom” on Children’s Reading and Math Skills in DRC: Results from a Cluster Randomized Trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(3), 507-509.
  • Morris, P.A., Aber, J.L.,, Wolf, S., & Berg, J. (2017), Impacts of Family Rewards on Adolescents' Mental Health Problem Behavior: Understanding the Full Range of Effects of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Prevention Science. Published on line: 31 January 2017.
  • Gordon, N., Godfrey, E., Aber, J.L., Richter, L., & the SIZE Research Group (2017). Exploring patterns of receipt of cash grants, health care, and education among 7-10 year old children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.Children and Youth Services Review, 78, 177-188.
  • Wolf, S. Berg., Morris, P., & Aber, L. (2017). Conditional cash transfer programs and early childhood development. In Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal & Eric Dearing (Eds.). Handbook of Early Childhood Programs, Practices and Policies (Chapter 20). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc.


Developmental Psychology

Prepare for a career as a professor, researcher, or human services professional, or a director or evaluator of mental health and health promotion programs.

Human Development and Social Intervention

The Human Development and Social Intervention program prepares students to pursue careers as research project directors, research coordinators, and more.

Psychology and Social Intervention

Prepare for a career as a social scientist, with strong quantitative training and exposure to interdisciplinary methods to examine setting-level phenomena.


Child Development and Social Policy in a Global Society

Examination of key issues facing families & governments in raising children for a 21st century global society. Topics might include: economics & politics affecting child well-being nationally & internationally; child-rearing challenges faced by families & government in low, middle, & high income nations, public (government) & private (family, business and charitable); the role of science & participatory/democratic processes in increasing the effectiveness of public & private investments in children.
Course #
APSY-UE 1279


J. Lawrence Aber ,

Departmental Seminar: Theories of Change in Applied Psychology

Graduate seminar for students who are planning to teach or do research in psychology. Aims & objectives, content, methods of instruction, preparation & use of materials for evaluation, & a survey of research, literature, & methods.
Course #
APSY-GE 3009


J. Lawrence Aber , Pamela Morris ,