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 face of retirement as the baby boomers enter old age, 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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3:59pm

Sun April 13, 2014
Your Money

Outdated Tax Code Gives Some Working Spouses A Bad Deal

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 9:07 am

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

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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2:28am

Mon March 31, 2014
The Changing Lives Of Women

When Planning For The Future, Women Have Been Hands Off

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 11:46 am

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

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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4:10pm

Thu March 20, 2014
Around the Nation

Rural Appalachia Helps Some Women Save For Retirement

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 4:22 pm

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

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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4:13pm

Thu February 27, 2014
Around the Nation

Telework: Not Just For Moms And Millennials

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 11:37 am

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

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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2:35am

Wed February 26, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:43 am

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

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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4:56pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 7:00 pm

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

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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2:04am

Wed January 1, 2014
The Salt

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

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

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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3:36pm

Thu December 26, 2013
News

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

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:13 pm

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

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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4:24am

Sun December 1, 2013
Parallels

Five Things You May Not Know About Child Marriage

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:40 am

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

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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9:04am

Mon November 25, 2013
Parallels

Can Child Marriages Be Stopped?

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:05 pm

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

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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4:30pm

Tue October 29, 2013
Law

Illinois Files Suit Against Online Adoption Agency

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 6:57 pm

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

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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2:32am

Thu August 29, 2013
The Salt

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

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 10:27 am

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

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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4:22pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Economy

Study Finds Stagnated, Declining Wages For Low Wage Earners

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 5:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The president's education tour is part of a broader campaign aimed at boosting the fortunes of the middle class. A study out today shows just how widespread the nation's economic pain has been. It finds that over the past decade, wages have been flat or even declined for the bottom 70 percent of American workers. NPR's Jennifer Ludden has that story.

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4:27pm

Wed August 14, 2013
Law

Jesse Jackson Jr. Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 7:40 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for using campaign funds to buy luxury goods. His wife also received a year in prison for filing false tax returns. Prosecutors called their joint crimes one of the worst abuses of campaign finance laws in recent memory. NPR's Jennifer Ludden was at the courthouse here in Washington, D.C.

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5:13pm

Mon July 15, 2013
Race

Zimmerman Verdict Feels Personal For Some In Service Sorority

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 6:54 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder greets Alexis Margaret Herman, member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, before speaking at the organization's convention.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Attorney General Eric Holder looked out over a sea of women in red on Monday and invoked his wife, a member of the influential African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta. Holder was addressing the sorority's national convention in its centennial year.

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