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Emily A. Greenfield, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Social Work

Dr. Greenfield's research addresses how early life experiences matter for aging. She also studies age-friendly community change processes.


Emily Greenfield is an Associate Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research aims to support efforts to improve social environments for diverse populations of older adults, families, and communities. Her areas of scholarly expertise include age-friendly community initiatives, aging-in-place supportive service programs, civic engagement in later life, and the long-term health effects of social inequalities in childhood. She uses a range of research methods, including analysis of large datasets, in-depth interviews, and community-based participatory research approaches. Greenfield’s research has received support from the National Institute on Aging, the John A. Hartford Foundation, The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, the Silberman Fund for Social Work Faculty Research, and the Grotta Fund for Senior Care.


A Poor Childhood Could Hurt Your Memory in Old Age
The Atlantic

February 26, 2019

“Epidemiological research in cognitive aging highlights an intuitive yet oftentimes overlooked aspect of brain aging: It is lifelong,” said Emily Greenfield Cohen, an associate professor of social work at Rutgers, in an email.

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Why We Argue With Our Neighbors Over the Stupidest Things
NBC News

October 28, 2017

Emily Greenfield, the study’s lead researcher and associate professor for Rutgers School of Social Work, says older people might place more value on their neighborly relationships because a) they’re home more and b) they often need to help each other out just to get by.

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How The Trailer Park Could Save Us All
Pacific Standard

June 14, 2017

Emily Greenfield, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, who researchers elder-care networks, says a change is occurring under our feet, whether we see it or not: "Baby boomers have critical mass—they're covertly revolutionizing society again" as they retire.

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Extracurricular activities in youth tied to social engagement later in life

February 03, 2017

“Participation in voluntary groups is thought to be especially important for older adults, who are more likely to lack other major social roles (such as through paid work) and who might face economic and health barriers that jeopardize their inclusion within their communities,” Greenfield said by email.

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Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities Let Seniors Age In Place
NJ Spotlight

September 25, 2012

“We want to leverage existing services,” said Emily Greenfield, a professor of social work at Rutgers University. “This will allow us to connect the dots of existing services and encourage the provision of in-kind services.”

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Housing Plus Services, IADL Impairment, and Healthcare Expenditures: Evidence from the Medicare Current Beneficiaries Survey
The Gerontologist

2019Despite enthusiasm for the potential cost savings of embedding supportive services in senior housing, few population health studies have empirically examined such associations.

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Advancing Program Theory for Licensed Assisted Living Services in Independent Housing
Journal of Housing For the Elderly

2019Assisted living programs (ALPs) embed licensed assisted living services within independent housing. To advance nascent research on this type of housing plus services, this study aimed to develop empirically grounded program theory on the processes through which ALPs benefit residents within independent housing.

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Community Gerontology: A Framework for Research, Policy, and Practice on Communities and Aging.
The Gerontologist

2018We introduce "community gerontology" as an area of research, policy, and practice that aims to advance understanding of communities as fundamental contexts for aging and its diversity, and to leverage this understanding for change. We present a foundational framework for community gerontology in three parts.

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Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Later Life Cognition: Evidence From the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study
Journal of Aging and Health

2018This study examined childhood socioeconomic status (SES) as a predictor of later life cognition and the extent to which midlife SES accounts for associations. Methods: Data came from 5,074 participants in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Measures from adolescence included parents’ educational attainment, father’s occupational status, and household income.

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Getting Started: An Empirically Derived Logic Model for Age-Friendly Community Initiatives in the Early Planning Phase
Journal of Gerontological Social Work

2018Age-friendly community initiatives (AFCIs) foster efforts across stakeholders to make localities more supportive and inclusive of older adults, and potentially better for residents of all ages. This study drew on in-depth interviews with leaders of nine newly forming AFCIs in northern New Jersey to develop an empirically based logic model for the initiatives in the early planning phase.

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Area of Expertise


Gerontological Society of America

Rutgers Institute for Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research


Social Services

Public Policy


Government Administration

Elder Care

Health and Wellness

Program Development



University of Wisconsin-Madison : Human Development & Family Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison : Human Development & Family Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign : Psychology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign : Spanish

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