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Faculty & Staff

Laura Cuesta

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; M.A., Universidad de los Andes

Dr. Cuesta’s research interests include family change, international approaches to child and family policy, and poverty and inequality.


Dr. Cuesta’s research focuses on understanding how countries approach social problems emerging from dramatic changes in family structure, especially the increasing proportion of children being raised apart from one of their parents (usually their father), and the extent and consequences of these rapid transformations of families worldwide. Two distinct but closely related lines of inquiry animate her research program. The first focuses on the role of social policies, particularly related to fathers and child support, in the well-being of disadvantaged families and children in the U.S. and Latin America. The second focuses on the trends, determinants, and consequences of family change in Latin America. In all of her work, Dr. Cuesta takes a comparative perspective to understand social problems and public policy responses (or lack thereof) to mitigate their negative consequences, particularly poverty and income inequality.

Her current projects examine factors associated with union formation, union dissolution, and family complexity in Chile and Colombia; approaches to child support policy in a number of Latin American countries; and the role of child support policy on child and family well-being in Chile, Colombia, and the United States. Dr. Cuesta’s work has been funded by Universidad de los Andes Center for Studies on Economic Development, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), the Rutgers University Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), and the Rutgers University Research Council.

Courses Taught: 

Social Welfare Policy and Services II

Methods of Social Work Research I

Selected Recent Publications: 

Pilarz, A.R., Cuesta, L., & Drazen, Y*. (2019). Nonstandard work schedules and father involvement among resident and nonresident fathers. Forthcoming in Journal of Marriage and Family.

Sanchez Mayers, R., Cuesta, L., Davis, R., & Curran, L. (2019). Developing a program for social work with Latino populations: a case study. Social Work Education, doi: 10.1080/02615479.2019.1660315

Cuesta, L., Hakovirta, M., & Jokela, M*. (2018). The antipoverty effectiveness of child support: Empirical evidence for Latin American countries. Social Policy & Administration, 52(6), 1233-1251. doi: 10.1111/spol.12437 

Cuesta, L., & Meyer, D. R. (2018). Child poverty and child support policy: A comparative analysis of Colombia and the United States. Children and Youth Services Review, 93, 143-153. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.07.013

Cuesta, L., Ríos-Salas, V., & Meyer, D.R. (2017). The impact of family change on income poverty in Colombia and Peru. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 48(1), 67-96. doi: 10.3138/jcfs.48.1.67

Berger, L.M., Cancian, M., Cuesta, L., & Noyes, J. (Alphabetical order). (2016). Families at the intersection of the criminal justice and child protective services systems. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 665, 171-194. doi: 10.1177/0002716216633058

Berger, L.M., Collins, M.J., & Cuesta, L. (Alphabetical order). (2016). Household debt and adult depressive symptoms in the United States. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 37, 42-57. doi: 10.1007/s10834-015-9443-6

Cuesta, L., & Cancian, M. (2015). The effect of child support on the labor supply of custodial mothers participating in TANF. Children and Youth Services Review, 54, 49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.05.006

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