Jennifer Karas Montez

Professor of Sociology and Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar of Aging Studies
Aging Studies Institute, Syracuse University

Jennifer Karas Montez is Professor of Sociology, Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar of Aging Studies, and Co-Director of the Policy, Place, and Population Health Lab in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also a Faculty Associate in the Aging Studies Institute at SU and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Montez received her PhD in Sociology with a Demography specialization at the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. Afterwards she spent two years at the Harvard School of Public Health as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar, and then two years at Case Western Reserve University as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. 

Her research examines the large and growing inequalities in adult mortality across education levels and geographic areas within the United States. She is particularly interested in why the growing inequalities have been most troublesome among women. Her current work on this topic blends perspectives from social demography and feminist geography to investigate the role of U.S. states in shaping women’s and men’s mortality in unique ways. In another line of research she examines whether and why experiences in childhood, such as poverty and abuse, have enduring consequences for health during later life. Montez is among the first scholars to study the effects of state policy preemption on population health outcomes.


State pre-emption is an emerging and highly contentious policy movement with potentially significant consequences on population health. Yet robust analyses to examine whether pre-emption affects health have yet to be conducted. Furthermore, pre-emption’s effect on geographic inequities in health has been largely neglected in policy debates. But it is becoming increasingly clear that state pre-emption laws could reshape the spatial distribution of health, with profound consequences for health care delivery systems and state and local budgets.