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 role of dads, the impact of rising student debt loads, 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.

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Shots - Health News
2:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

U.Va. Looks At Ways To Curb Drinking At Its Frat Houses

The University of Virginia is trying to crack down on excessive and underage drinking at fraternities.
Jay Paul Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:58 am

The University of Virginia is renegotiating its contract with fraternities, which were suspended after a Rolling Stone article described a frat house gang rape. Even though that article has been called into question, U.Va.

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Around the Nation
3:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

At University Of Virginia, Efforts Born Of Discredited Story Go On

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:01 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When a Rolling Stone article on campus rape began to fall apart, activists immediately knew the real losers - everyone who's ever been a victim of sexual assault on campus.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Around the Nation
2:39 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Fallout From 'Rolling Stone' Story Changes Conversation At UVA

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:49 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Around the Nation
4:25 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Two Of Three States Reject Ballot Measures Restricting Abortion

Abortion-rights supporters outside the Supreme Court in January for the annual March for Life. This week North Dakota and Colorado struck down ballot measures restricting abortion, while Tennessee passed an initiative that may result in restricted rights.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:11 pm

Amid all the shakeout from this week's midterm elections, many are trying to assess the impact on abortion.

Two abortion-related ballot measures were soundly defeated. A third passed easily. And those favoring restrictions on abortion will have a much bigger voice in the new Congress.

In North Dakota and Colorado, voters rejected 2-to-1 so-called personhood measures, which would give legal rights to fetuses.

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New Boom
1:32 am
Thu October 16, 2014

For More Millennials, It's Kids First, Marriage Maybe

Phillip Underwood and Michelle Sheridan and their children, Logan and Lilliana, gather in their living room in Frederick, Md., after a long day of work and school. The couple had delayed marriage, in part for financial reasons.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 7:09 am

Decades ago, an "oops" pregnancy might have meant a rush to the altar. But when Michelle Sheridan got pregnant three years ago, the topic of marriage never came up with her boyfriend, Phillip Underwood, whom she lives with in Frederick, Md.

If anything, it was the opposite.

"It changes the dynamic of the household," she says. "I had a friend who put off her marriage. Got pregnant, and she's like, 'Let's just wait, 'cause we don't know if we're going to be able to make it through this.' "

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Sports
3:00 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

With Dark Humor, Anger And Empathy, Women Respond To The NFL

A Ravens fan trades in her Ray Rice jersey Friday after he was cut from the team over allegations of domestic abuse.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:21 am

As the National Football League scrambles to defend its actions in amid a series of domestic abuse allegations against players, some of its harshest critics have been women. Female fans are a key part of the league's business strategy — the NFL says that women make up 45 percent of its fan base — but they haven't reacted to the scandal with one voice.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Colleges Brainstorm Ways To Cut Back On Binge Drinking

Frostburg State University police officer Derrick Pirolozzi conducts a "knock and talk" at a house near campus, reminding students of laws on underage drinking and open containers.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 11:48 am

It's early Friday night, and Frostburg State University police officer Derrick Pirolozzi is just starting the late shift. At a white clapboard house, he jumps out of his SUV to chat with four students on the front steps.

"S'up guys!" he calls out, assuring them he just wants to chat. All are underage but one, and that one tells Pirolozzi he has a string of alcohol violations from past years. Pirolozzi banters a bit. He tells them to "call anytime," and reminds them not to walk around the street with open containers.

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Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Shooting Range Accident Draws Focus On Children Handling Guns

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 5:28 pm

A tragedy at an Arizona shooting range this week has set off a debate about children using high-powered weapons, as well as America's gun culture. Shooting range owners are defending their industry as safe, criticizing this particular operator for allowing a small girl to use an Uzi.

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A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus
9:18 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Student Activists Keep Pressure On Campus Sexual Assault

Dana Bolger, who says she was raped in 2011 while a student at Amherst College, co-founded a group that seeks to educate students about their rights under Title IX.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 9:47 am

For Georgetown University freshmen, orientation this week included a new activity: mandatory small-group discussions on sexual assault.

"For a lot of the kids, this might be the first time they ever actually talk about sexual assault or what consent means in an environment with their peers," says Chandini Jha, a junior who helped lead several discussions and who's been pushing administrators to do this for two years.

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Men In America
1:48 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

More Dads Want Paternity Leave. Getting It Is A Different Matter

Kumar Chandran and Elanor Starmer with their son, Kailas Chandran. The couple's friends are envious of Chandran's paid paternity leave.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 7:14 pm

After nearly four weeks at home with his infant son, Kumar Chandran has the diaper thing down.

"Shhh, almost done," he says, hunching over Kai on the living room floor of their Washington, D.C., townhouse, while his wife, Elanor Starmer, tries to placate the fussy baby.

Chandran says there was no question he wanted to be home at this time. The nonprofit he works for offers four weeks of paid parental leave — the same for men and for women. He says this has let him bond with his son and pick up on subtle cues.

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War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
5:04 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

To Break Cycle Of Child Poverty, Teaching Mom And Dad To Get Along

Brittiny Spears, 26, is not with the father of her daughter, Zykeiria, 4. "He just still wanted to go out and party and be a little boy," Spears says.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:52 am

After a half-century of the War on Poverty, an anti-poverty agency in Ohio has concluded that decades of assistance alone just hasn't changed lives. Instead, it says, the ongoing breakdown of the family is to blame.

"You're seeing the same people come year after year, and in some cases generation to generation. And so then you think, why is that happening?" says Jennifer Jennette, program manager of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties in Ohio.

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Around the Nation
1:01 am
Thu June 19, 2014

U.S. Plan To House Immigrant Kids In Tiny Va. Town Rattles Residents

St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Va., closed last year, but recently struck a deal to lease campus buildings to the federal government. The rent would allow the college to remain open — though not for education — and would provide funds to cut grass, staff guards, issue transcripts and allow the college to find a buyer.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 9:01 am

The influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children to the U.S. has sparked a controversy in an unlikely place far from the U.S.-Mexico border: a tiny town in southern Virginia.

The federal government had struck a deal to house some of the migrants in an empty college in Lawrenceville, in the heart of Virginia's tobacco belt. The first busload was expected as early as Thursday, but a local backlash has put the plan on hold.

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Around the Nation
4:53 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Stay-At-Home Dads On The Rise, And Many Of Them Are Poor

The number of fathers in the U.S. who stay at home with their children has nearly doubled since 1989.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:38 am

The number of dads staying at home with their children has nearly doubled in the past two decades, and the diversity among them defies the stereotype of the highly educated young father who stays home to let his wife focus on her career.

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that almost 2 million fathers are at home, up from 1.1 million in 1989. Nearly half of those men live in poverty.

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Health
4:00 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Think Work Is Stressful? For Many, It's More Relaxing Than Home

Work can be rough, but a researcher has found that for many people, being at home is more stressful than being at the office.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 5:10 pm

Many Americans say their jobs are stressful — we complain of too much to do in too little time, demanding bosses or difficult colleagues. But researcher Sarah Damaske wanted to know, objectively, is being at work any harder than being at home?

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Education
11:17 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

Why Aren't Teens Reading Like They Used To?

British Library of Political and Economic Science Flickr

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 8:21 am

Harry Potter and The Hunger Games haven't been big hits for nothing. Lots of teens and adolescents still read quite a lot.

But a roundup of studies, put together by the nonprofit Common Sense Media, shows a clear decline over time. Nearly half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year — if that.

That's way down from a decade ago.

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Business
7:52 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Present But Not There: Ruling Supports Telecommuting

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 10:33 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Working from home used to be an exception. Technology's changed that. And now an appeals court has ruled that being at work doesn't always require you to physically have to be at work. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.

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Around the Nation
3:15 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

If You Want Flextime But Are Afraid To Ask, Consider Moving

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 9:23 am

More companies than ever before say that they're offering flexible hours or telecommuting to their workers. Still, San Francisco and the state of Vermont are trying a new approach to push businesses to do more: They're using the law.

Starting this year, employees in both places have the right to ask for a flexible or predictable work schedule, without fear of retaliation.

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Your Money
2:59 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

Outdated Tax Code Gives Some Working Spouses A Bad Deal

The U.S. tax code, which dates back to the days of Ozzie and Harriet, works against dual-income spouses. In some cases, it's cheaper for one spouse to stay home.
Sherry Yates iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 8:07 am

Women today are nearly half the workforce, and two-income couples are the norm. But the U.S. tax code? It's straight out of Ozzie and Harriet.

When it comes to paying taxes, economists say, a lot of secondary wage-earners are getting a raw deal. It's called the marriage penalty.

"The system was never designed to penalize working spouses," says Melissa Kearney, director of the Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution. "It was just designed in a different era."

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The Changing Lives Of Women
1:28 am
Mon March 31, 2014

When Planning For The Future, Women Have Been Hands Off

In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett plays a wealthy New York socialite who has it all, loses it all and ends up delusional on a park bench.
Perdido Productions

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:46 am

It's a truism in the financial industry that women need to get more out of their money than men since they live longer and make less, especially if they take time out to care for children or aging parents. But it's also a given that they lack confidence when it comes to investing, something that's clear on a recent evening at the Women's Center in Vienna, Va.

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Around the Nation
3:10 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Rural Appalachia Helps Some Women Save For Retirement

Anita Wallace runs a child care service in rural Athens County, Ohio. She hadn't saved much for retirement before the Appalachian Savings Project offered to match half of her savings up to $600.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 3:22 pm

Anita Wallace has run a day care in her home in rural Athens County, Ohio, for eight years. The schedule is more family-friendly than when she logged 60 hours a week as a manager at Wal-Mart, and the pay is about $27,000 a year — not bad for the area.

Wallace adores the children, getting down on the floor to let toddlers snuggle on her shoulder. But Wallace, 40, and her husband, 47, also have three of their own kids to raise.

"They're very expensive!" she says, laughing, as her own children — two still live at home — inform her of the new track uniforms they need.

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Education
2:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home

Stephanie Taveras (left) visits Julia Alfaro and her 3-year-old daughter, Ayleen, to read and discuss her vocabulary progress.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 8:34 am

When Andrea Riquetti taught kindergarten in Providence, R.I., the disparity between more affluent students and those from poor families was painfully clear.

"We would read The Very Hungry Caterpillar," she says, "and I would ask them, 'What is this fruit?' And they would call all the fruits just 'fruits,' because they didn't have the specific name."

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Around the Nation
3:13 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Telework: Not Just For Moms And Millennials

New research finds that 3 out of 4 remote workers are men.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:37 am

Many people may think of a "remote worker" as a harried mom in her bathrobe or a 20-something at a coffee shop. But that image doesn't actually reflect who is working outside the office, according to a new study.

"A remote worker, someone who does most of their work outside of their employer's location, is not a woman, is not a parent and is not a Gen-Y millennial," says Cali Williams Yost, a workplace flexibility strategist and CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group.

A Remote-Working Gender Gap

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Around the Nation
1:35 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?

Children do better — in school and emotionally — when they have enough time with both parents, according to a fathers' rights group pushing for joint-custody laws.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:43 am

Fathers today spend more time than ever with their kids, experiencing just as much stress as women in balancing work and family, if not more. But when couples divorce and a custody dispute hits the courts, too many judges award custody to Mom, according to fathers' rights groups.

Ned Holstein, head of the National Parents Organization, formerly called Fathers and Families, says research shows that children do better academically and emotionally when they see a lot of each parent.

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Around the Nation
3:56 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Going To College May Cost You, But So Will Skipping It

A new study shows that the income gap between young adults who go to college and those who don't only continues to grow.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 6:00 pm

In America, total student loan debt tops $1 trillion and a four-year college degree can cost as much as a house — leaving many families wondering if college is really worth the cost.

Yes, a new study of young people finds. The study, released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, looks at income and unemployment among young adults. Paul Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at Pew, says it's pretty much case closed when it comes to the benefits of going to college.

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The Salt
1:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 9:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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News
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

With National Treasures At Risk, D.C. Fights Against Flooding

The U.S. Capitol dome provides a view down the National Mall, an area vulnerable to flooding.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:13 pm

The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.

"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."

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Parallels
3:24 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Five Things You May Not Know About Child Marriage

Arinafe Makwiti, 13, says her parents forced her to drop out of school and get married to an older man last year to help with the family finances. Makwiti has divorced her husband, but now has a 9-month-old daughter.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 8:40 am

NPR's Jennifer Ludden recently traveled to the African nation of Malawi, one of many countries in the developing world where child marriage remains prevalent. She found girls like Christina Asima, who was married at 12 and became a mother at 13. She is now divorced and caring for her infant son on her own. You can read Jennifer's full report here. Below are a few more things she learned while reporting on child marriage.

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Parallels
8:04 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Can Child Marriages Be Stopped?

Christina Asima says she had no choice but to marry last year at age 12 to help care for younger siblings after her mother abandoned the family. But she says her husband was abusive, so she left him, and now must look after her 8-month-old son, Praise, alone.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 4:05 pm

Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.

My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.

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Law
3:30 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Illinois Files Suit Against Online Adoption Agency

A Web-based adoption can hold great appeal for all sides.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:57 pm

The Adoption Network Law Center is based in California, but when someone in Illinois searches "adoption" on the Web, up it pops, right near the top.

"They're very specific in directing their advertising and marketing to people in Illinois," says Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, even though they're not licensed in the state. Illinois prohibits for-profit adoption agencies.

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The Salt
1:32 am
Thu August 29, 2013

For Restaurant Workers, A Struggle To Put Food On The Table

Losia Nyankale helps daughter Jonessa and son Juliean learn the alphabet. Nyankale, who works in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., says she needs food stamps and child-care subsidies to make ends meet.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 9:27 am

Losia Nyankale, 29, didn't mean to make a career in the restaurant business. But after Nyankale was in college for two years, her mom lost her job as a schoolteacher and could no longer pay tuition. Then, Nyankale's temp jobs in bookkeeping dried up in the recession. So she went back to her standby — restaurant work.

"I did some kitchen work. The pantries or the salad station," she says. "I've also managed, supervised, wash[ed] dishes."

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