Joan Kahn is a social demographer whose work focuses on issues related to family, gender and social change in the U.S. Whereas her earlier work examined topics related to fertility, especially among teenagers and immigrants, her more recent work uses a life course perspective to understand aging processes, gender and health inequalities and intergenerational relationships. She studies the broad social changes of the past half century through the changing work and family lives of cohorts, especially those preceding and including the baby boom generation, which spearheaded many of these changes. As the baby boomers move from midlife into the “mature” ages, they bring with them vastly different past family experiences than previous generations of older adults, with potentially important implications for the well-being of both older individuals and their families. Kahn has explored the long-term consequences of earlier life course experiences through studies of the accumulated effects of financial strain on health at older ages, and the long-term impact of birth-timing on women’s careers. She has also explored the changing nature of intergenerational relationships both over time and across the life course through studies of long-term trends in living arrangements and the narrowing gender gap in caregiving at older ages. Her most recent work examines flows of intergenerational support from the perspective of the sandwiched generation, adults in their 50s and 60s who are caught between providing support to older parents while also supporting dependent children. Kahn regularly teaches courses in Demography and Aging to both undergraduate and graduate students. At the undergraduate level, she teaches Demographic Techniques (SOCY 411) and Demography of Aging (SOCY 498D), and at the graduate level, she teaches Demographic Methods (SOCY 611), Seminar in the Demography of Aging (SOCY 626) and Social Aspects of Fertility (SOCY 635).


  • PhD
    Sociology, Michigan (1985)
  • BA
    History, Stanford (1978)

Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)

  • Hangqing Ruan
Joan Kahn
jkahn [at]