Sharon Sassler

Professor of Public Policy and Sociology


 Sharon Sassler received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University in 1995, and joined the Cornell faculty in 2005.  She is a professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management.  A social demographer, Sassler’s research examines factors shaping the activities of young adults and their life course transitions into school and work, relationships, and parenthood, and how these transitions vary by gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. 

Her published research on family demography explores various facets of contemporary relationships, assessing whether transitions into marriage are as beneficial for single mothers as for childless women, whether marital or cohabiting unions are associated with the health of single mothers; how children born to unmarried parents fare with regards to their educational outcomes; as well as research on how cohabiting unions progress into marriage, parenthood, or dissolution.   Her forthcoming (2017) book, Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships, examines how cohabitation is contributing to growing levels of family inequality in the United States.   A second stream of her work examines the retention and advancement of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) occupations, examining transitions into and retention in STEM jobs, as well as the gender wage gap in STEM. 


  • Kristi Williams, Sharon Sassler, Fenaba Addo, and Adrianne Frech, Fenaba Addo. 2015. “Early Childbearing, Union Status, and Women’s Health at Midlife.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior.56(4):514-533. 
  • Sharon Sassler, Soma Roy, and Elizabeth Stasny. 2014. "Men's Economic Status and Marital Transitions of Fragile Families." Demographic Research. 30(3):71-110.  
  • Sharon Sassler and Amanda Miler. 2014. “We’re Very Careful . . .”: The Fertility Desires and Contraceptive Behaviors of Cohabiting Couples. Family Relations. 63(4): 538-553.
  • Daniel T. Lichter, Sharon Sassler, and Richard Turner. 2014. "Cohabitation, Post-Conception Unions, and the Rise in Non-Marital Fertility." Social Science Research. 47:134-147.
  • Sharon Sassler, Kristi Williams, Fenaba Addo, Adrianne Frech, and Elizabeth Cooksey. 2013.“Family Structure & High School Graduation: How Children Born to Unmarried Mothers Fare.”Genus: Journal of Population Sciences, Vol. LXIX (No. 2), 1-33.
  • Jennifer Glass, Sharon Sassler, Yael Levitte, and Katherine Michelmore. 2013. “What’s So Special About STEM? A Comparison of Women’s Retention in STEM and Professiona Occupations.”Social Forces. 92(2):723-756.
  • Kristi Williams, Sharon Sassler, Adrianne Frech, Fenaba Addo, and Elizabeth Cooksey. 2013. “Mothers’ Union Histories and the Mental & Physical Health of Adolescents Born to Unmarried Mothers.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 54 (3): 278-295.
  • Amanda Miller and Sharon Sassler. 2012. “The Construction of Gender in Cohabiting Relationships.” Qualitative Sociology, 35(4):427-446.
  • Sharon Sassler, Fenaba Addo, and Daniel T. Lichter. 2012. “The Tempo of Sexual Activity and Later Relationship Quality.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 74:708-725.
  • Sharon Sassler and Amanda J. Miller. 2011. “Waiting to Be Asked: Gender, Power, and Relationship Progression among Cohabiting Couples.” Journal of Family Issues, 32(4):482-506.
  • Sharon Sassler and Amanda Miller. 2011."Class Differences in Cohabitation Processes." Family Relations, 60(2):163-177. (DOI: 10.111/j.1741-3729.2010.00640.x).
  • Kristi Williams, Sharon Sassler, Adrianne Frech, Fenaba Addo,* and Elizabeth Cooksey. 2011. “Single Mothers, Union History, and Health at Midlife.” American Sociological Review 76(3):465-486.  
  • Sharon Sassler and Kara Joyner. 2011. "Social Exchange and the Progression of Sexual Relationships in Emerging Adulthood." Social Forces. 90(1):223-245.  
  • Amanda J. Miller, Sharon Sassler, and Dela Kusi-Appouh. 2011. "The Specter of Divorce: Views from Working- and Middle-Class Cohabitors." Family Relations, 60(5):602-616.  
  • Sharon Sassler. 2010. "Partnering Across the Life Course: Sex, Relationships, and Mate Selection." Journal of Marriage and Family. 72(3):557-575..  
  • Sharon Sassler. 2004. "The Process of Entering into Cohabiting Unions." Journal of Marriage and Family. 66:491-505.

SOC Courses - Spring 2024

SOC Courses - Summer 2024