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Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

Sharon Sassler is Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University in 1995. She has taught at Wellesley College, Hunter College (CUNY), and The Ohio State University. She joined the Cornell faculty in 2005.

A social demographer, Sassler’s research examines factors shaping the activities of young adults and their life course transitions into school and work, relationships, and parenthood, and how these transitions vary by gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. Some current projects explore the tempo of relationship progression, the processes underlying entrance into cohabiting unions and marriage, and the meanings cohabitors assign to their unions. She has also examined outcomes associated with becoming an unmarried mother (for mothers and their young adult offspring), and the impact of subsequent entrance into unions (marriage or cohabitation). Her most recent collaboration examines how family expectations and experiences shape the retention and promotion of women and minorities in science and technology (STEM) careers.

Sassler has published extensively on topics relating to family formation and change, including studies of union formation (cohabitation, marriage) and the progression of romantic and sexual relationships, marriage among single mothers (both divorced and never married), and immigrant adaptation.

Her recent research projects examine how union formation and childbearing are associated with health and well-being, occupational attainment and job turn-over, and relationship quality. For example, she is concluding a collaborative project to assess the midlife health of unmarried mothers and the outcomes associated with entrance into marital or cohabiting unions. This project also examined how age at childbearing shapes health outcomes in mid-life, and various measures of well-being for the offspring of unmarried mothers, such as their health, educational attainment, and early childbearing.


  • –present
    Professor of Policy Analysis and Management , Cornell University