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Sandra Hofferth Ph.D.

Sandra Hofferth, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita, School of Public Health

Research Professor

Maryland Population Research Center
2105 Morrill
College Park , MD 20742
Office Phone: 301-405-6404


  1. 1976 Ph.D., Sociology, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, August, Sociology. Dissertation: "Modeling the Contraceptive Behavior of Couples: An Exchange Approach" (Chairman: J. Richard Udry)
  2. 1971 M.A., Sociology, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, August, Sociology. Thesis: "Cooperation and Competition in Peasant Communities" (Chairman: Henry A. Landsberger)
  3. 1967 B.A., Sociology and Psychology, Swarthmore College, June. Fellowships: NIMH Traineeship in Social Psychology, 1967-1968 and 1970-1972.


Sandra Hofferth, Professor Emerita, School of Public Health, and Research Professor, Maryland Population Research Center, is a former Director of the Maryland Population Research Center (2008-2012) and a former co-Director of the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics. She was Vice President of the Population Association of America in 2010. Her research interests are in American children's use of time and later health outcomes, work and family, fathers and fathering, and family policy. She has published on the effects of racial/ethnic disparities at the individual and neighborhood levels on father (and mother) involvement and child outcomes and published a series of papers on social capital. Dr. Hofferth has researched family issues in the context of public policy for over thirty years, publishing three books and more than 100 articles and book chapters. She recently completed a project funded by NICHD that examined the timing of and consequences of parenthood for men and women. Besides her deep knowledge of large national data bases, she has expertise in measurement, methods, and structural equation modeling. Her most recent book is the Handbook of Measurement Issues in Family Research.  She is Principal Investigator on an NICHD-funded grant, the American Time Use Survey Data Extract System, which provides advanced extracting capabilities for seven years of time use data on individual time expenditures and on family time allocations to activities across a 24-hour period.


Much of Hofferth’s research focuses on children’s time, including estimates of children’s media, studying, and sports participation time as well as estimates of time children spend with their mothers and fathers. Results to date include large increases over the past 5-6 years in computer and video game use and declines in active sports participation and outdoor leisure activities among 6-12 year olds. She has also found evidence that early participation in sports (when children are 6-12) is associated with lower risk of overweight when they are 13-18. In the area of fathers and fathering, Hofferth completed two papers that examined the association between marital status, biological relationship of the father, involvement with children and child development (Journal of Marriage and the Family and Demography). Drawing from the Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, these papers used innovative methods to test whether family structure differences in father involvement were due to selectivity of men into families or to actual differences in parenting. In the public policy area, Hofferth examined the impact of U.S. parental leave statutes on employment of new mothers after childbirth in a paper with S. Curtin (Work and Occupations 2006). Hofferth’s work on welfare reform and public policy over the past decade is summarized in the Spring 2002 issue of Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, a journal of the American Sociological Association. Hofferth demonstrated that welfare reform policies, particularly the work requirement, contributed to the increased exits of single mothers from AFDC in the mid-1990s (Population Research and Policy Review 2002). Returns to public assistance tended to result from changes in personal circumstances rather than public policies (Social Science Research 2005). Hofferth, like many others, failed to find an effect of welfare reform policies such as family caps on nonmarital childbearing (Population Research and Policy Review 2006). Finally, Hofferth found no evidence of either poor children being more likely to be overweight or that food programs contribute to overweight among poor children (Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2005).