Lawrence Aber

Lawrence Aber is professor of applied psychology and public policy at New York University and board chair of its new Institute on Human Development and Social Change.

Recent Articles

Cascading Effects of Parental Stress

Economic hardship reverberates through the family in multiple ways that harm children. 

O n August 14, 2003, the lights went out in cities across the Northeast. This rolling blackout, one of the worst in U.S. history, was a cascading failure, in which a local power surge on an already-overloaded system triggered failures across the network. Five years later, much of America was in the midst of another type of cascading failure. Like the Northeast blackout of 2003, the collapse of the housing market in 2007 flowed through multiple and interconnected systems, resulting in the deepest and most sustained global economic slowdown since the Great Depression. The ensuing recession reverberated through families, placing economic stresses on parents, with repercussions for an entire generation of children. These ripple effects couldn’t have come at a worse time for U.S. families already weighed down by a decade of stagnant wages and growing income inequality, particularly for low- and middle-income families. As developmental scientists, we know that economic deprivation—including...

Changing the Climate on Early Childhood

The science of early childhood development is as persuasive as the science of global climate change. Today, both challenges urgently call for a transformative politics.

In certain respects, the threat of lost human potential and the science of early childhood development are much like the threat of global warming and the science of climate change. Can the human development movement take a few useful lessons from the global warming movement? Can we more effectively engage science to advance a progressive politics of early childhood development? The globe, seen from a satellite, is elegantly simple: perfectly spherical and awash in blue and white. But down here at ground level we see its profound complexity: continents, oceans, and seas; millions of interrelated organisms; essential matter literally indispensable to the creation and support of life. The natural and environmental sciences have made enormous progress over the last few decades in analyzing that complexity. Their essential insight is that the globe is a whole system. You can't seriously assault a part of this system (CO2 emissions from rich economies boring a hole in the ozone layer)...