Jennifer Ludden

Jennifer Ludden is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. She covers a range of stories on family life and social issues.

In recent years, Ludden has reported on the changing economics of marriage, the changing face of retirement as the baby boomers enter old age, and the ethical challenges of modern reproductive technology.

Ludden helped cover national security after the 9/11 attacks, then reported on the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as Congressional efforts to pass a sweeping legalization. She traveled to the Philippines for a story on how an overburdened immigration bureaucracy keeps families separated for years, and to El Salvador to profile migrants who had been deported or turned back at the border.

Prior to moving into her current assignment in 2002, Ludden spent six years as a foreign reporter for NPR covering the Middle East, Europe, and West and Central Africa. She followed the collapse of the decade-long Oslo peace process, shared in two awards (Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists) for NPR's coverage of the Kosovo war in 1999, and won the Robert F. Kennedy award for her coverage of the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When not navigating war zones, Ludden reported on cultural trends, including the dying tradition of storytellers in Syria, the emergence of Persian pop music in Iran, and the rise of a new form of urban polygamy in Africa.

Before joining NPR in 1995, Ludden reported in Canada, and at public radio stations in Boston and Maine.

Ludden graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in English and Television, Radio and Film Production.

Pages

U.S.
3:02 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Single Dads By Choice: More Men Going It Alone

Brian Tessier, who adopted two children as a single father, with son Ben. Tessier has started a hotline for prospective single dads.
Erika Hart Courtesy of Brian Tessier

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 3:22 pm

B.J. Holt always wanted to be a dad. As he approached 40, with no life partner in sight, he felt a version of the ticking biological clock.

"The 'having the children thing' started to overwhelm the desire to have the relationship first," Holt says. "They sort of switched on me."

So Holt decided to go it alone. A few years ago, he used an egg donor and a surrogate to create a family of his own.

First came Christina, now 4, a strawberry-blond bundle of energy who loves to stage ballet performances in the living room of their New York City apartment.

Read more
Economy
2:54 am
Thu May 10, 2012

College Grads Struggle To Gain Financial Footing

Graduates of the University of Alabama's class of 2011. The economic downturn has hit recent college grads hard. New data show only half of those who graduated from 2006 to 2011 are working full time.
Butch Dill AP

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 4:48 am

Most of the estimated 1.5 million people graduating from a four-year college this spring will soon be looking for a job.

If the experiences of other recent college grads are any guide, many will be disappointed.

A new Rutgers University survey of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011 finds that just half of those grads are working full time.

Settling For Part Time

Read more
Presidential Race
3:23 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Working Moms' Challenges: Paid Leave, Child Care

Many working mothers say their employers don't support them when they need to tend to a sick child. In this file photo, a single mother holds her child at a health clinic in Colorado.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 8:55 am

The past week's political firestorm in the presidential race focused on stay-at-home moms, but two-thirds of women with young children now work. Nearly half are their family's primary breadwinner. What some feel is being lost in the political debate are the challenges they face in the workplace.

When Kids Get Sick

Read more
Making Babies: 21st Century Families
5:32 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Ties That Bind: When Surrogate Meets Mom-To-Be

Surrogate Whitney Watts had her son, J.P., while her husband, Ray Watts, was at sea with the Navy. Surrogacy experts say it's crucial for surrogates to have their own children because they'd presumably understand the emotions involved in bearing a child. The couple for whom Whitney carried twins paid for all expenses during the pregnancy, including private health insurance.
Marisa PeΓ±aloza NPR

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:55 pm

Second in a four-part report

As she approached her sixth month of pregnancy last year, Whitney Watts' cervix had started to shorten. It's a common problem with twins. Watts was concerned, and was taking care not to overexert herself.

But it's probably fair to say her condition was far more frightening for Susan de Gruchy, the woman who had hired Watts to be a surrogate because she and her husband were unable to conceive. Nearly 400 miles away, de Gruchy was obsessed with worry.

Read more
Making Babies: 21st Century Families
4:29 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Legal Debate Over Surrogacy Asks, Who Is A Parent?

William Stern holds his daughter, then known as Baby M, in 1987. The Sterns' surrogate tried to keep the baby after she was born. Their court battle became the first public debate about surrogacy.
M. Elizabeth Fulford AP

Third in a four-part report

These days it can take a village to create a child. Technology means someone who never thought they'd be able to conceive can use a sperm donor, an egg donor and a surrogate β€” a woman who bears a child for someone else. But the law has not kept pace with technology, and with so many people involved, a key question remains: Who is a legal parent?

Read more
Your Money
5:23 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Your (Virtual) Future Self Wants You To Save Up

Professor Hal Hershfield (left), 32, uses a computer program to get an idea of what he might look like at 70 (right).
Chinthaka Herath Courtesy of Hal Hershfield

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 9:22 pm

A retirement crisis is looming. As people live longer, one study finds that half of all households are at risk of coming up short on retirement money. And while many working households may feel they simply don't have enough to spare for retirement, experts say some of the biggest barriers to saving up are psychological.

Read more
All Tech Considered
11:01 am
Thu February 23, 2012

CU In Court: Texts Can Be A Divorce Lawyer's Dream

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 6:36 pm

Americans have learned to carefully craft their Facebook postings, and edit and spell-check e-mails. But apparently we don't give text messages much thought, and they're providing abundant and effective fodder for divorce attorneys.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:10 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Helicopter Parents Hover In The Workplace

As the millennial generation enters the workforce, employers report that parents are taking an increasingly active role advocating on behalf of their children.
Images Bazaar Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 7:33 pm

So-called helicopter parents first made headlines on college campuses a few years ago, when they began trying to direct everything from their children's course schedules to which roommate they were assigned.

With millennial children now in their 20s, more helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace, sometimes even phoning human resources managers to advocate on their child's behalf.

Megan Huffnagle, a former human resources manager at a Denver theme park, recalls being shocked several years ago when she received a call from a young job applicant's mother.

Read more
All Tech Considered
1:45 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Tutors Teach Seniors New High-Tech Tricks

At Pace University in New York, college students who tutor seniors in local retirement homes are prepped with sensitivity training. Brittany Beckett (left), a Pace student, and Muriel Cohen work together at United Hebrew of New Rochelle.
Courtesy of Pace University

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Oregon, the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

Read more
Around the Nation
12:01 am
Wed December 14, 2011

When It Comes To Marriage, Many More Say 'I Don't'

Marriage β€” it's so last century. A new report finds that the share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to its lowest on record.
iStockphoto.com

The share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to a record low 51 percent, according to a new report. If the trend continues, the institution will soon lose its majority status in American life.

The report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds new marriages dropped a sharp 5 percent last year, which is very likely related to the bad economy. Pew senior writer D'Vera Cohn says it fits with a larger trend.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
5:21 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

To Keep Marriage Healthy When Baby Comes, Share Housework

A survey identifies traits, like generosity, that help couples buck the trend toward marital discord once baby arrives.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 5:24 pm

As many couples can attest β€” and lots of research backs this up β€” marital happiness plummets with the arrival of a baby. Sleepless nights, seemingly endless diaper changes and the avalanche of new chores that come with a newborn leave little time for the intimacies of marriage. It's a situation ripe for mental stress and marital discord.

Read more
Making Babies: 21st Century Families
12:01 am
Thu December 1, 2011

Many Women Underestimate Fertility Clock's Clang

Kate Donnellon Nail, 43, works out regularly and eats well. She never thought she would have a problem conceiving a child.
Courtesy of Kate Donnellon Nail

A new survey finds a big disconnect when it comes to fertility. The age women think they can conceive a baby is far different from what their bodies are actually capable off. This poses an increasing problem, as more women wait longer than ever to have children.

Kate Donnellon Nail never imagined she'd have trouble conceiving. For one thing, people always tell the San Francisco musician she looks much younger than her 43 years.

"I work out regularly, I have a personal trainer," she says. "I've been doing yoga for 15 years."

Read more
Around the Nation
3:11 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Parenting Advice For The 20-Something Years

Brian Griffith (left), shown here in 2009 at age 26, moved home with his parents, Jay and Jennifer Griffith, after losing his job. The tight job market, especially for college grads, has prompted many young adults to move back in with their parents.
Robert Lahser MCT /Landov

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 5:53 pm

From pregnancy on, parents often keep a stack of bedside reading full of advice on raising children β€” survival tips from the terrible toddler years through annoying adolescence. Los Angeles comedy writer Gail Parent figured she'd be done with all that once her kids turned the magical age of 21.

"Because I didn't tell my parents anything bad or negative," she says. "I let them be very peaceful about me when I was an adult. But I had told my kids to tell me everything when they were young."

Read more
Economy
3:00 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Report: Wealth Gap Widens Between Old And Young

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 8:04 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. We've been hearing a lot lately about the gap between rich and poor in this country. Well, now a new angle on that gap between young and old. Research out today finds that older Americans are significantly better off than seniors a generation ago, but young adults have fallen dramatically behind.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.

Read more
Generational Politics: Silents to Millennials
5:00 am
Sat November 5, 2011

Generation X Divided Over 2012 Candidates

Generation Xers β€” grown up now and in their 30s and 40s β€” are feeling hardest-hit by the recession, and are the most divided over the presidential candidates for 2012, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Read more
Living Large: Obesity In America
3:50 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Workplaces Feel The Impact of Obesity

This office chair was custom-built by a company called ErgoGenesis for a client who exceeded the 600-pound limit of its other chairs. It cost $1,800.

Courtesy of ErgoGenesis

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 7:03 pm

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

From cubicle farms to auto factories, accommodating larger and heavier employees has become a fact of life. One in three U.S. adults is obese, and researchers say the impact on business can be boiled down to a number: $1,000 to $6,000 in added cost per year for each obese employee, the figure rising along with a worker's body mass index.

Read more
Living Large: Obesity In America
2:29 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Corporations Offer Help In Trimming The Waist

To encourage healthy choices, Dow's corporate cafeteria features color-coded utensils. Healthy foods like broccoli, spinach and beets have green handles. Yellow handles mean caution, and red is for temptations like bacon bits and high-fat dressing.

Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 7:04 pm

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

Read more
Economy
12:01 am
Fri October 21, 2011

School Debt A Long-Term Burden For Many Graduates

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.

Butch Dill AP

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

Read more
Life In Retirement: The Not-So-Golden Years
2:40 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Saving For Retirement: How Much Do You Need?

More than half of Americans are at risk of not having enough money for basic expenses in retirement, experts say.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 7:04 pm

By some counts, fewer than half of Americans have ever tried to calculate how much they'll need for retirement. And those who do? In one recent survey, half told pollsters they just guessed.

A new poll for NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds retirement is proving more difficult than expected for many Americans, in large part because they haven't saved enough. So we set out to ask: How much do you need?

Read more
Retirement In America: The Not-So-Golden Years
3:32 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Retirement: Reality Not As Rosy As Expectations

According to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, life in retirement is better or the same as it was before, but it is worse for a substantial minority in key areas, including health and finances.
David Goldman AP

Americans pride themselves on being optimistic. But Robert Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that may not be such a good thing when it comes to planning for retirement. For many Americans, it is proving harder than they imagined, according to a a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Read more

Pages