Richard Settersten

Richard A. Settersten, Jr., PhD

Richard A. Settersten, Jr., PhD

Interim Dean, College of Health
University Distinguished Professor of Life Course and Human Development

Kerr Administration Building 628
1500 SW Jefferson Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States

Curriculum Vitae

Academic interests

The life course; age and aging; transitions; social relationships; historical experiences and social change; parenthood and family life; social policy.


Richard (Rick) A. Settersten, Jr., PhD, is University Distinguished Professor of Life Course and Human Development. He serves as Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs at Oregon State University. He was the founding Director of the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families.

Before coming to OSU, Settersten was Professor of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University. Settersten was a member of the decade-long MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy, and has served as Chair of the Section on Aging and the Life Course of the American Sociological Association.

Dr. Settersten is a specialist in life-course studies, with a strong record of experience conducting research and collaborating across disciplines and life periods. His research has often focused on the first and last few decades of adulthood, always with an eye toward understanding the whole of human life.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Settersten has held fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin, the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern, and the Spencer Foundation in Chicago.  He is author or editor of many scientific articles and several books, including Living on the Edge, Precarity and Ageing, Long-Term Outcomes of Military Service, Handbook of Theories of Aging, Not Quite Adults, Handbook of Sociology of Aging, and On the Frontier of Adulthood, as well as issues of Advances in Life Course Research, Public Policy and Aging Report, Research on Aging, and Research in Human Development.

Besides MacArthur, his research has been supported by divisions of the National Institutes of Health—including projects on personalized genomic medicine (funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute), scientific and medical efforts to control human aging (by the National Institute on Aging), and the long-term effects of military service on health and well-being in later life (also funded by the National Institute on Aging).

Settersten has participated in National Academy of Science/Institute on Medicine panel discussions about the health, safety, and well-being of young adults, and the social demography, epidemiology, and sociology of aging. He is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, has served on review committees of the National Institutes of Health, and was co-editor of the journal Research in Human Development.

Between 2015 and 2021, Settersten co-led the Oregon Family Impact Seminars, a series of nonpartisan workshops designed to bring the best possible scientific evidence to state legislators, agency heads, and other leaders to guide policy decisions.

His research has been covered in many media outlets, including the Economist, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New Yorker, Christian Science Monitor, NPR, BBC, and U.S. News and World Report.

Settersten has been recognized with the Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award of the American Sociological Association and the Distinguished Lifetime Career Award of the Society for the Study of Human Development. His work has also twice been recognized with the Richard Kalish Innovative Publication Award of the Gerontological Society of America and the Outstanding Publication Award of the Section on Aging and the Life Course of the American Sociological Association. At OSU, he has received the university’s Impact Award for Outstanding Scholarship, as well as the Faculty Excellence Award and the Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. In 2022, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.


Living on the Edge

An American Generation’s Journey Through the Twentieth Century

By Richard A. Settersten Jr., Glen H. Elder Jr., and Lisa D. Pearce.


Living on the Edge: An American Generation’s Journey Through the Twentieth Century

Drawing from the iconic longitudinal Berkeley Guidance Study, Living on the Edge reveals the hopes, struggles, and daily lives of the 1900 generation. Most surprising is how relevant and relatable the lives and experiences of this generation are today, despite the gap of a century. From the reorganization of marriage and family roles and relationships to strategies for adapting to a dramatically changing economy, the challenges faced by this earlier generation echo our own time. Living on the Edge offers an intimate glimpse into not just the history of our country, but the feelings, dreams, and fears of a generation remarkably kindred to the present day.

Available at University of Chicago Press

Precarity and Ageing

Understanding Insecurity and Risk in Later Life

Edited by Amanda Grenier, Chris Phillipson, Richard A. Settersten Jr.


Precarity and Ageing

What risks and insecurities do older people face in a time of both increased longevity and widening inequality?

This edited collection develops an exciting new approach to understanding the changing cultural, economic and social circumstances facing different groups of older people. Exploring a range of topics, the chapters provide a critical review of the concept of precarity, highlighting the experiences of ageing that occur within the context of societal changes tied to declining social protection. Drawing together insights from leading voices across a range of disciplines, the book underscores the pressing need to address inequality across the life course and into later life.

Available at Bristol University Press

Long-Term Outcomes of Military Service: The Health and Well-Being of Aging Veterans

Edited by Avron Spiro, Richard A. Settersten, Jr., and Carolyn M. Aldwin


Long-Term Outcomes of Military Service: The Health and Well-Being of Aging Veterans
Using data compiled from longitudinal studies of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans, contributors to this groundbreaking book examine the effects of military service across the lifespan. The U.S. spends more than 100 billion dollars annually on healthcare for more than 30 million active military and veterans.

The prevalence of negative trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among military veterans is well-known. But other more subtle effects of military service — particularly on health and well-being in later life — are less well-understood, among researchers as well as medical and mental health professionals who care for veterans.

Chapters in this book give us crucial insights into the impact of military service, including the surprising finding that service can serve as a protective factor in some contexts, throughout the aging process.

Topic areas include

  • the effects of combat and stress on longevity and brain functioning
  • the use of memory, cognition, and ego development at various points in life
  • the relationship between experiences of discrimination and the later development of PTSD
  • marriage longevity
  • employment
  • the way notions of patriotism and nationalism among service personnel and their families may change over time

Visit the website for this book.