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Faculty & Staff

Deborah Carr

Professor Department of Sociology Secondary Appointment, School of Social Work

PhD, Wisconsin-Madison

Deborah Carr's research interests include bereavement, end-of-life issues, and the influence of family relations on health and well-being.


Deborah Carr is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Rutgers University. She has a secondary appointment at the School of Social Work, and is a faculty member at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research. She earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1997, and her research interests include aging and the life course, psychosocial factors influences on health over the life course, and end-of-life issues.

One strand of her research focuses on how family roles and relationships affect health and well-being, with an emphasis on chronic and acute family-related stressors. She co-authored a trade book on the ways that generational differences in women’s work and family roles shape mother-daughter relationships: Making Up with Mom: Why Mothers and Daughters Disagree about Kids, Careers, and Casseroles (and What to Do about it) (2008, St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne). Her most recent book is Worried Sick: How Stress Hurts Us and How to Bounce Back (2014, Rutgers University Press).

A second strand of her research focuses on bereavement and end-of-life decision-making among older adults. She is interested in how demographic, technological, and social/political changes affect the experiences of the dying and their families. She is co-editor of Spousal Bereavement in Late Life (2006, Springer Publishing). She is principal investigator on several NIA-funded studies of end-of-life issues, including the New Jersey End of Life study and Wisconsin Study of Families and Loss (WISTFL), a follow up to Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Her third area of research focuses on the social, psychological, and interpersonal consequences of body weight and obesity.

Carr is a member of the honorary organizations Sociological Research Association and Academy of Behavioral Medicine, and is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She has served as deputy editor of Social Psychology Quarterly and Journal of Marriage and Family, and as trends editor of Contexts (an American Sociological Association publication). She is editor-in-chief of Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences (2015-2018). She is also chair of the editorial board of Rutgers University Press. Carr has held several offices for the American Sociological Association sections on Aging & the Life Course, Medical Sociology, Mental Health, and Social Psychology, and is currently chair of the Aging & Life Course section. Carr also is Chair of the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey, and is a co-investigator on the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS).

Courses Taught: 

  • Social Psychology (graduate)
  • Analysis of Sociological Data II (graduate)
  • Social Structure and Personality (graduate)
  • Sociology of the Life Course (graduate)
  • Introduction to Social Psychology (undergraduate)
  • Normality and Abnormality (undergraduate
  • Social Demography of Aging (graduate)
  • Writing Seminar (graduate)

Selected Recent Publications: 

Carr, Deborah, Vicki A. Freedman, Jennifer C. Cornman, and Norbert Schwarz. 2014. “Happy Marriage, Happy Life? Marital Quality and Subjective Well-Being in Later Life.” Journal of Marriage and Family 76: 930-948.

Carr, Deborah and Shane Sharp. 2014. “Do Beliefs in an Afterlife Affect Psychological Adjustment to Spousal Loss?”Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 69B: 103-112.

Carr, Deborah, John Sonnega, Randolph M. Nesse, and James S. House. 2014. “Do Special Occasions Trigger Grief Symptoms among Bereaved Older Spouses?: An Assessment of Clinical Wisdom.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 69B: 113-122.

Carr, Deborah and Kathrin Boerner. 2013. “The Impact of Spousal Loss on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life: Are Effects Contingent upon the Quality of the Late Marriage?” Family Science 4:37-49.

Carr, Deborah and Kathrin Boerner. 2013. “Dating after Late-Life Spousal Loss: Does it Compromise Relationships with Adult Children?” Journal of Aging Studies 27: 487–498

Carr, Deborah, Lauren Murphy, Heather Batson and Kristen W. Springer. 2013. “Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Effect of Obesity on the Sexual Satisfaction and Behavior of Adult Men in the U.S.” Men and Masculinities16: 452-477.

Carr, Deborah, Sara Moorman, and Kathrin Boerner. 2013. “End-of-Life Planning in a Family Context: Does Relationship Quality Affect Whether (and With Whom) Older Adults Plan?”Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 68: 586-92.

Carr, Deborah. 2012. “’I Don’t Want to Die Like That...’: The Impact of Significant Others’ Death Quality on Advance Care Planning.” The Gerontologist 52: 770-781.

Carr, Deborah. 2012. “The Social Stratification of Older Adults’ Preparations for End of Life Health Care.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 53: 297-312.

Carr, Deborah. 2012. “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Advance Care Planning: Identifying Subgroup Patterns and Obstacles.” Journal of Aging & Health 24: 923-947.

Carr, Deborah. 2012. “Death and Dying in the Contemporary United States: What are the Psychological Implications of Anticipated Death?” Social and Personality Psychology Compass 6/2: 184-195.

Carr, Deborah and Karen Jaffe. 2012. “The Psychosocial Consequences of Weight Trajectories: Evidence from Quantitative and Qualitative Data.” Economics and Human Biology 10: 419-430.

Carr, Deborah and Kristen Springer. 2010. “Advances in Families and Health Research in the 21st Century.” Journal of Marriage and Family (Decade in Review Special Issue) 72: 744-762.

Carr, Deborah. 2009. “Who’s to Blame? Perceived Responsibility for Spouse’s Death and Psychological Distress among Older Widowed Persons.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:359-375.

Carr, Deborah and Kathrin Boerner. 2009. “Do Spousal Discrepancies in Marital Quality Assessments Affect Psychological Adjustment to Widowhood?” Journal of Marriage and Family 71: 495-509.

Carr, Deborah, Karen Jaffe and Michael Friedman. 2008. “Perceived Mistreatment among Obese Americans: Do Race, Class, and Gender Matter?” Obesity 16 (Supplement): S60-68.

Carr, Deborah and Dmitry Khodyakov. 2007. “Health Care Proxies in Later Life: Whom Do We Choose and Why?”Journal of Health and Social Behavior 48(2): 180-194.

Carr, Deborah and Michael Friedman. 2006. “Body Weight and Interpersonal Relationships.” Social Psychology Quarterly 69: 127-49.

Carr, Deborah and Michael Friedman. 2005. “Is Obesity Stigmatizing? Body Weight, Perceived Discrimination and Psychological Well-Being in the United States.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 46: 244-259.

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