Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Kelly Noonan

In their research, Dr. Kelly Noonan, professor of Economics, and her colleagues explore the effects of children’s health shocks on family resources.
Thursday, December 22, 2011

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Salvation Army bell ringers, and food and clothing drives remind us of the realities of the less fortunate. With the downturn of the economy and the mortgage and housing crisis in recent years, statistics on the homeless and poor are staggering. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates that 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.

In their research, Dr. Kelly Noonan, professor of Economics, and her colleagues explore the effects of children’s health shocks on family resources. Recently, she presented their forthcoming paper, “Life Shocks and Homelessness,” with Dr. Hope Corman, professor of Economics at Rider, Dr. Nancy E. Reichman of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Dr. Marah A. Curtis of Boston University at the National Bureau of Economic Research Health Economics Program Meeting in Boston in May.

The study, an extension of their previous research, utilizes data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing survey in order to determine whether and to what extent the birth of a child with a severe health condition leads families into homelessness. They conclude that such “life shocks” do increase the chance that the family will experience homelessness, especially in areas with high fair-market rents.

“If you have a child in poor health, there’s an increased likelihood of homelessness and post-parental depression,” Noonan explained. “Life shocks can also affect relationships, insurance status, labor supply and food security.”

Since Noonan examined the foster-care system in the United States for her doctoral thesis at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, her research has focused on child policy issues. She has written and co-written numerous papers on the subject, which have been published Social Sciences and Medicine, Demography, and Maternal and Child Health Journal. In addition, she is a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and associate editor of the Social Science Journal.

Noonan, who joined the Rider faculty in 2000, teaches principle and upper-level classes in Economics, as well as an online Health Economics course. She studied Psychology as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York, but it was not until her senior year when she took an Economics course that she discovered her passion. Noonan said the two disciplines are similar.

“Economics and psychology take a look at motivation preferences and choices. They both are about human behavior and how people respond,” she said.

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Dr. Kelly Noonan, professor of Economics