Esther M. Friedman

Photo of Esther Friedman
Behavioral and Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
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Ph.D. in sociology, University of California - Los Angeles

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Esther Friedman is a sociologist at the RAND Corporation where she also serves as director of the RAND Caregiving Initative. Friedman works on a variety of topics related to healthy aging among older adults, with a focus on long-term care and family caregiving. She has published work on neighborhood factors and cognitive decline, peer support groups for family caregivers, unmet caregiving needs among older adults, and on the prevalence and predictors of family care for dementia. She is currently PI on an NIH-R01 for which she is collecting and analyzing new data on the social support networks of family caregivers over three waves. Friedman earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.A. in statistics from Columbia University. Prior to joining RAND, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Harvard University.

Recent Projects

  • Evaluating disparities in older adult institutionalization and mortality after implementation of Medicaid’s Balancing Incentives Program
  • Estimating the Future Availability of Family Care for Alzheimer's Disease in the U.S.
  • The Support Networks of Older Adults and their Caregivers
  • Objective and Perceived Neighborhood Characteristics and Cognitive Decline
  • Health, Wellbeing, and the Social Networks of Family Caregivers of People with Alzheimer's Disease


  • Large group of people making a virus shape, photo by NiseriN/Getty Images

    An Early Look at the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Demographic Trends

    Key demographic trends in fertility, mortality, and migration are responsible for shifts in the overall structure of any population. COVID-19 has affected each of these, with potentially important implications.

    Apr 12, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • Elderly Asian woman on wheelchair at home with daughter taking care of her, photo by Toa55/Getty Images

    Rescue Plan Help for Family Caregivers Is a First Step

    Unpaid caregivers have been a critical part of the functioning U.S. economy, serving as the backbone of the health system, since long before the pandemic started. Adding them to the American Rescue Plan was an important step, but even after the pandemic is over, their financial security will need long-term protection.

    Apr 5, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • A senuir Hispanic man in a wheelchair with his adult daughter, photo by kali9/Getty Images

    Family Caregivers Are the Health Care Workers That Vaccination Plans Overlook

    About 53 million family members and friends provide care to loved ones in the United States, representing a critical element of the long-term care system. The pandemic has made family caregivers front-line workers. They can't be left out of important discussions around vaccination priorities and how to minimize the virus's risk to those with compromised health.

    Mar 1, 2021 Route Fifty

  • Family caregiver helping familymember into bed, photo by byryo/Getty Images

    Recognizing Family Caregivers as Part of the Health Care Team

    Recent shifts in health care practices have left family caregivers increasingly responsible for medical tasks. Given family caregivers' central role in medical care, there are efforts underway to improve family caregiver integration into the health care team, but there are barriers to effective integration and engagement.

    Nov 18, 2019 The RAND Blog

  • Senior father and adult son

    Response to 'Study on Parental Longevity Is Short on Causation'

    The possible effects of families on health and mortality is an extremely complex topic. No single study or type of study is exactly a test of the argument. We need more studies that advance possible interpretations and describe patterns of associations in broad populations of interest.

    Aug 11, 2014 New York Times

  • A son, father, and grandfather fishing from a dock

    Demographics Add Urgency for Action on Dementia Long-Term Care

    Dementia takes a huge toll on those afflicted with it. But it also has major consequences for those who must care for them, most often family and friends.

    Jul 28, 2014 Modern Healthcare