Judith A. Seltzer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Los Angeles and she is a founding member of the California Center for Population Research.
After graduating summa cum laude with a BA in sociology from Princeton University, Judy completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Michigan. After postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University, she accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin where she rose to the rank of Professor. In 1998, she was recruited to UCLA but continues as an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford (in 2007) and at the Russell Sage Foundation (in 2010-11).
In a distinguished career spanning three decades, Judy has established herself as a leading scholar of kinship institutions that are in flux. Her research examines marriage, cohabitation, divorce, and nonmarital families in the United States. She has a long-standing interest in custody, child support and visiting patterns in separated families. Her findings suggest that policies, such as joint legal custody, may increase the time fathers spend with children after divorce. Seltzer recently completed an interdisciplinary project on the implications of the changing demography of U.S. families for relationships between older parents and adult children and how adults interact with siblings and parents. Her current work examines widowed mothers’ living arrangements and help adult children provide parents when they live apart.
She is known for her innovation and expertise in the design and administration of studies of families and kinship, having been involved in the design of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) and contributing to the design and conduct of two evaluations of child support and welfare reform in Wisconsin. She has recently piloted work using vignettes in an Internet panel to study parent-adult child obligations to support each other in times of financial need. She advises a number of large, ongoing panel studies, serving on the Advisory Boards of the German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (PAIRFAM) and the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study and as a member of the design team for the Los Angeles Study of Families and Communities (LAFANS). She has also served on the National Academy of Sciences Panels on Residence Rules in the Decennial Census and the Design of the 2010 Census Program of Evaluations and Experiments. She is also beginning a 4-year term of service on the General Social Survey (GSS) Board of Overseers.
Judy is known as a terrific mentor of graduate students and, indeed, it was her former students who organized the effort to recognize her as a PAA Honored Member. The list of individuals whose dissertation committees she has either chaired or served as member reads as a “who’s who” list of the PAA’s early and mid-career family demographers. She models in her own work the attention to empirical detail and careful theorizing that she expects students to bring to their work. At the same time, she delivers these expectations with kindness, respect and generosity, supporting students academically and professionally but also in their personal lives.
Judy’s service to the profession and to UCLA are equally stellar. She has chaired the Family Section of the American Sociological Association and she serves on the PAA Board of Directors (both elected positions). She is a member of the NIH Social Sciences and Population Studies review panel. She has chaired numerous award committees for PAA and the American Sociological Association as well as ad hoc panels for NIH. She has served as Graduate Director and as Vice Chair of the UCLA Sociology Department and as Associate Director of the California Center for Population Research, to name just a few of her important service contributions at UCLA.