Richard (Rick) A. Settersten, Jr., PhD, is Barbara E. Knudson Endowed Chair and Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences, and Head of the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. He is also the founding endowed 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 in Ohio. Settersten was a member of the decade-long MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy, and he has also 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 across 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 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 of the health, safety, and well-being of young adults, and of 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.

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.

His work has also been recognized with the Distinguished Lifetime Career Award of the Society for the Study of Human Development, the Richard Kalish Innovative Publication Award of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section 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-wide 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.

Settersten-CV (4-28-20)

School, Department, or Affiliation

Research Interests

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


Settersten Elder Pearce-Living on the Edge (U Chicago Press Jan 2021)Living on the Edge
An American Generation’s Journey Through the Twentieth Century
Richard A. Settersten Jr., Glen H. Elder Jr., and Lisa D. Pearce


Release date: January 8, 2021

History carves its imprint on human lives for generations after. When we think of the radical changes that transformed America during the twentieth century, our minds most often snap to the fifties and sixties: the Civil Rights Movement, changing gender roles, and new economic opportunities all point to a decisive turning point. But these were not the only changes that shaped our world, and in Living on the Edge, we learn that rapid social change and uncertainty also defined the lives of Americans born at the turn of the twentieth century. The changes they cultivated and witnessed affect our world as we understand it today.

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.

Precarity and Ageing
Understanding insecurity and risk in later life
Edited by: Amanda Grenier, McMaster University, Chris Phillipson, The University of Manchester and Richard A. Settersten
Jr., Oregon State University

“This is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that
provides an overview of what precarity is, its role in
understanding ageing, and how precarity can be seen
as a lens to think about the role of the state, political
actions and social and medical responses.”
Josie Tetley, Manchester Metropolitan University

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.


Long-Term Outcomes of Military Service:
The Health and Well-Being of Aging Veterans
Avron Spiro, Ph.D., Richard A. Settersten, Ph.D., and Carolyn M. Aldwin, Ph.D