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

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Esther Friedman is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her work examines how families, social ties, and communities shape trajectories of health and aging. One body of work is focused on family caregiving and long-term care, including the impact of Medicaid's HCBS rebalancing efforts on health, instiutionalization, and the caregiving workforce, patterns and determinants of family caregiving in later life, and caregiving in the so called “sandwich generation.” A second body of work examines the long-run health consequences of early life family relationships, stress, and adversity. More recent work explores the relationship between neighborhood and community characteristics and cognitive decline among middle aged and older adults. Esther is currently co-leading a project evaluating the effects of a long-term care program intended to increase home-and community-based services on health and health disparities of older adults in the U.S, and is leading a study estimating the future availability of family care for dementia in the U.S.

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
  • Aging, Work, and Intergenerational Obligations


  • 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