Esther M. Friedman

Photo of Esther Friedman
Behavioral and Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


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

More Experts


Esther Friedman is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation. She works on a variety of topics related to healthy aging, with a focus on long-term care and family caregiving. She has published on the long-term consequences of early life adversity, neighborhoods and cognitive decline in later life, family caregiving for dementia, peer support groups for family caregivers, unmet caregiving needs among older adults, the “sandwich generation”, and policy options for dementia long-term services and supports. She is currently leading two NIH-funded studies on family caregiving. The first uses microsimulation modeling to project the availability of family caregivers for people with dementia to 2060. The second is a study of the social support networks of family caregivers. She is also co-lead on a project to develop recommendations for how to integrate family caregivers into the medical team and a project to evaluate the nation’s most recent and largest effort to rebalance Medicaid towards home- and community-based services. Finally, she is co-organizer of the Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care (ADL) Strategy Group at RAND and director of the new RAND Caregiving Initiative.

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


  • 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