Jennifer Ludden

Jennifer Ludden is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. She covers a range of stories on family life and social issues.

In recent years, Ludden has reported on the changing economics of marriage, the changing role of dads, the impact of rising student debt loads, and the ethical challenges of modern reproductive technology.

Ludden helped cover national security after the 9/11 attacks, then reported on the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as Congressional efforts to pass a sweeping legalization. She traveled to the Philippines for a story on how an overburdened immigration bureaucracy keeps families separated for years, and to El Salvador to profile migrants who had been deported or turned back at the border.

Prior to moving into her current assignment in 2002, Ludden spent six years as a foreign reporter for NPR covering the Middle East, Europe, and West and Central Africa. She followed the collapse of the decade-long Oslo peace process, shared in two awards (Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists) for NPR's coverage of the Kosovo war in 1999, and won the Robert F. Kennedy award for her coverage of the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When not navigating war zones, Ludden reported on cultural trends, including the dying tradition of storytellers in Syria, the emergence of Persian pop music in Iran, and the rise of a new form of urban polygamy in Africa.

Before joining NPR in 1995, Ludden reported in Canada, and at public radio stations in Boston and Maine.

Ludden graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in English and Television, Radio and Film Production.

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Living Large: Obesity In America
2:50 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Workplaces Feel The Impact of Obesity

This office chair was custom-built by a company called ErgoGenesis for a client who exceeded the 600-pound limit of its other chairs. It cost $1,800.

Courtesy of ErgoGenesis

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:03 pm

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

From cubicle farms to auto factories, accommodating larger and heavier employees has become a fact of life. One in three U.S. adults is obese, and researchers say the impact on business can be boiled down to a number: $1,000 to $6,000 in added cost per year for each obese employee, the figure rising along with a worker's body mass index.

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Living Large: Obesity In America
1:29 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Corporations Offer Help In Trimming The Waist

To encourage healthy choices, Dow's corporate cafeteria features color-coded utensils. Healthy foods like broccoli, spinach and beets have green handles. Yellow handles mean caution, and red is for temptations like bacon bits and high-fat dressing.

Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:04 pm

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

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Economy
11:01 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

School Debt A Long-Term Burden For Many Graduates

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.

Butch Dill AP

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

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Life In Retirement: The Not-So-Golden Years
1:40 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Saving For Retirement: How Much Do You Need?

More than half of Americans are at risk of not having enough money for basic expenses in retirement, experts say.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 6:04 pm

By some counts, fewer than half of Americans have ever tried to calculate how much they'll need for retirement. And those who do? In one recent survey, half told pollsters they just guessed.

A new poll for NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds retirement is proving more difficult than expected for many Americans, in large part because they haven't saved enough. So we set out to ask: How much do you need?

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Retirement In America: The Not-So-Golden Years
2:32 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Retirement: Reality Not As Rosy As Expectations

According to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, life in retirement is better or the same as it was before, but it is worse for a substantial minority in key areas, including health and finances.
David Goldman AP

Americans pride themselves on being optimistic. But Robert Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that may not be such a good thing when it comes to planning for retirement. For many Americans, it is proving harder than they imagined, according to a a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
3:01 am
Sun September 18, 2011

Donor-Conceived Children Seek Missing Identities

Kathleen LaBounty, here with her daughter, Lexi, has been searching for her biological father.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Second in a two-part report.

Sperm donation has long been shrouded in secrecy, and that seemed in the best interest of both the donors and the couples who used their sperm. But now a generation of donor-conceived children has come of age, and many believe they should have the right to know who their biological parents are.

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
2:45 am
Sat September 17, 2011

A New Openness For Donor Kids About Their Biology

Tina and Patrick Gulbrandson, with their daughter, Waverly.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Sat September 17, 2011 8:52 am

First in a two-part report.

Women inseminated with a donor's sperm used to be advised to tell no one. Go home, doctors said, make love to your husband and pretend that worked. But in a trend that mirrors that of adoption — from secrecy to openness — more parents now do plan to tell such children how they were conceived and are seeking advice on how best to do that.

Tina Gulbrandson understands the temptation of secrecy. She felt stigma and pain when she needed to use another woman's eggs to get pregnant.

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