Jennifer Karas Montez

Assistant Professor


Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, 2011



Dr. Montez’s research centers on socioeconomic inequalities in adult health and mortality within the United States. Her research has addressed topics such as why the longevity benefits of education are greater for men than for women, why differences in longevity across education levels have grown among women since the mid-1980s, and whether the association between education and longevity is better explained by a human capital or credential perspective. Her research has appeared in journals such as DemographyJournal of Health and Social Behavior, and the Journals of Gerontology. Dr. Montez is a guest editor of a forthcoming Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine that features articles examining the societal conditions under which educational attainment and adult health are causally related.

Dr. Montez’s most recent research focuses on why women with more education live longer than women with less education, and especially why the inequality has grown in recent decades and why it greatly depends on the region of the United States where women live. Her research investigates the structural explanations for the regional differences; for example, is it due to differences between U.S. states in affordable housing, regressive tax policies, and/or investments in primary and secondary education systems?

In a second line of research, she examines the early-life origins of later-life health and mortality. She integrates theoretical perspectives from social epidemiology, sociology of gender, aging, and the life course to examine why early-life adversities, such as childhood poverty, appear to be more consequential for women’s health than for men’s health in later life. She recently received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to collect data about early-life conditions from women enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. She is presently analyzing the data to understand the extent to which socioeconomic adversities in childhood predict cardiovascular disease risk among women in midlife, and to uncover the life course processes that explain the association.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, Montez teaches courses in statistics, research methods, and demography. She also enjoys teaching courses in the sociology of aging, life course, and medical sociology.


Selected Publications

Jennifer Karas Montez and Mark D. Hayward. (2014) “Cumulative Early-Life Adversity, Educational Attainment, and Active Life Expectancy among U.S. Adults.” Demography 51(2): 413-435.

Jennifer Karas Montez and Anna Zajacova. (2013) “Explaining the Widening Education Gap in Mortality Risk among U.S. White Women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 54(2): 165-181.

*Won the 2012 Senior Service America Junior Scholar Award of the Gerontological Society of America*

Jennifer Karas Montez and Anna Zajacova. (2013) “Trends in Mortality Risk by Education Level and Cause of Death among White Women in the United States from 1986 to 2006.” American Journal of Public Health 103(3): 473-479.

Dustin C. Brown, Mark D. Hayward, Jennifer Karas Montez, Robert A. Hummer, Chi-Tsun Chiu, and Mira M. Hidajat. (2012) “The Significance of Education for Mortality Compression in the United States.” Demography 49(3): 819-840.

Jennifer Karas Montez, Robert A. Hummer, and Mark D. Hayward. 2012. “Educational Attainment and Adult Mortality in the United States: A Systematic Analysis of Functional Form.” Demography 49(1):315-336.

Jennifer Karas Montez, Robert A. Hummer, Mark D. Hayward, Hyeyoung Woo, and Richard G. Rogers. (2011) “Trends in the Educational Gradient of U.S. Adult Mortality from 1986 through 2006 by Race, Gender, and Age Group.” Research on Aging 33(2): 145-171.

Jacqueline L. Angel, Jennifer Karas Montez, and Ronald J. Angel. (2011) “A Window of Vulnerability: Health Insurance Coverage among Women 55 to 64 Years of Age.” Women’s Health Issues 21(1): 6-11.

*Won the Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize for the best paper published in Women’s Health Issues in 2011, and the 2010 Senior Service America Scholar Award of the Gerontological Association of America*

Jennifer Karas Montez and Mark D. Hayward. (2011) “Early Life Conditions and Later Life Mortality.” Chapter 9 in the International Handbook of Adult Mortality, edited by Richard G. Rogers and Eileen M. Crimmins.

Debra J. Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez. (2010) “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51(suppl): 54-66.

Jennifer Karas Montez, Mark D. Hayward, Dustin C. Brown, and Robert A Hummer. (2009) Why is the Educational Gradient in Mortality Steeper for Men?” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 64(5): 625-634.

Jennifer Karas Montez, Jacqueline L. Angel, and Ronald J. Angel. (2009) “Employment, Marriage, and the Inequality in Health Insurance among Mexican-Origin Women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50(2): 132-148.

Ronald J. Angel, Jacqueline L. Angel, and Jennifer Karas Montez. (2009) “The Work/Health Insurance Nexus: The Weak Link for Mexican-Origin Men.” Social Science Quarterly 90(5): 1112-1133.

Jennifer Karas Montez and Karl Eschbach. (2008) “Country of Birth and Language are Uniquely Associated with Intakes of Fat, Fiber, and Fruits and Vegetables Among Mexican-American Women in the United States.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108(3): 473-480.

Jennifer Karas Montez and Tracy X. Karner. (2005) “Understanding The Diabetic Body-Self.” Qualitative Health Research 15(8): 1086-1104.



In The News


June 9, 2014

Jennifer Karas Montez interviewed on NPR affiliate, WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas about the importance of where we live (the specific state, county, neighborhood) on how long we live.

Listen to the interview here:


June 4, 2014

Jennifer Karas Montez invited to speak at the National Institute of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research on the importance of educational attainment for living long and healthy lives.



December 10, 2013

Jennifer Karas Montez gives webinar on “Translating your Work for Important Audiences: How to Make your Point with Policymakers, the Media, and Other Influencers” to the RWJF Human Capital Network.


July 2013

Cover story of the July 2013 issue of The American Prospect featured research by Jennifer Karas Montez on the alarming trends in low-educated women’s health in the United States.


May 30, 2013

Study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior by Jennifer Karas Montez and Anna Zajacova was covered in the New York Times.


February 26, 2013

Jennifer Karas Montez was interviewed on CNN’s the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer about life expectancy trends in the United States

Read the transcript of the interview here (scroll down to bottom of page):


Recent Publications

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Mather House 223D

Office Hours

Tu 1:00 - 3:00PM or by appointment