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Emily A. Greenfield, Ph.D. - International Federation on Ageing. New Brunswick, NJ, US

Emily A. Greenfield, Ph.D. Emily A. Greenfield, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Social Work | Rutgers

New Brunswick, NJ, UNITED STATES

Dr. Greenfield's research addresses how early life experiences matter for aging. She also studies age-friendly community change processes.






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Introduction to Age-Friendly Community Initiatives Aging in [a] Place: Planning, Design & Spatial Justice in Aging Societies, Panel 2




Emily Greenfield is an Associate Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research aims to support efforts to improve social environments for diverse populations of older adults, families, and communities. Her areas of scholarly expertise include age-friendly community initiatives, aging-in-place supportive service programs, civic engagement in later life, and the long-term health effects of social inequalities in childhood. She uses a range of research methods, including analysis of large datasets, in-depth interviews, and community-based participatory research approaches. Greenfield’s research has received support from the National Institute on Aging, the John A. Hartford Foundation, The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, the Silberman Fund for Social Work Faculty Research, and the Grotta Fund for Senior Care.

Areas of Expertise (12)


Life Course Human Development

Social Services

Theory Development



Social Inequality

Social Isolation

Family Studies


Social Relationships and Health


Accomplishments (5)

Awarded Fellowship (highest level of membership)

2018 The Gerontological Society of America

Recognized as “Outstanding Reviewer” for The Gerontologist

2017 The Gerontological Society of America

Selected as a member of a national working group to develop a specialized curricular guide on aging

2016 Council on Social Work Education

Recognized as “Outstanding Reviewer” for The Gerontologist

2015 The Gerontological Society of America

Recognized as “Outstanding Reviewer” for a faculty/student reviewer team for The Gerontologist

2016 The Gerontological Society of America

Education (4)

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Ph.D., Human Development & Family Studies 2007

Minor in Aging Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison: M.S., Human Development & Family Studies 2004

Interdisciplinary Certificate in Gerontology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: B.S., Psychology 2002

Graduated with departmental distinction and summa cum laude

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: B.A., Spanish 2002

Graduated with departmental distinction and summa cum laude

Affiliations (2)

  • Gerontological Society of America
  • Rutgers Institute for Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research

Media Appearances (5)

A Poor Childhood Could Hurt Your Memory in Old Age

The Atlantic  online


“Epidemiological research in cognitive aging highlights an intuitive yet oftentimes overlooked aspect of brain aging: It is lifelong,” said Emily Greenfield Cohen, an associate professor of social work at Rutgers, in an email.

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Why We Argue With Our Neighbors Over the Stupidest Things

NBC News  


Emily Greenfield, the study’s lead researcher and associate professor for Rutgers School of Social Work, says older people might place more value on their neighborly relationships because a) they’re home more and b) they often need to help each other out just to get by.

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How The Trailer Park Could Save Us All

Pacific Standard  online


Emily Greenfield, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, who researchers elder-care networks, says a change is occurring under our feet, whether we see it or not: "Baby boomers have critical mass—they're covertly revolutionizing society again" as they retire.

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Extracurricular activities in youth tied to social engagement later in life

Reuters  online


“Participation in voluntary groups is thought to be especially important for older adults, who are more likely to lack other major social roles (such as through paid work) and who might face economic and health barriers that jeopardize their inclusion within their communities,” Greenfield said by email.

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Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities Let Seniors Age In Place

NJ Spotlight  online


“We want to leverage existing services,” said Emily Greenfield, a professor of social work at Rutgers University. “This will allow us to connect the dots of existing services and encourage the provision of in-kind services.”

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Event Appearances (5)

Developing program theory to assess age-friendly community change

The Gerontological Society of America  Boston, MA

Advancing a Spatial Justice Lens through Research on Local Age-Friendly Community Change Processes.

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies  Harvard University

Assessing age-friendly community change processes over time

The 14th annual meeting of the International Federation on Aging  Toronto, ON

A framework for aging-friendly community initiatives in the early planning phase

IAGG World Congress  San Francisco, CA

Budding from our roots: Envisioning community gerontology

Gerontological Society of America  New Orleans, LA

Research Grants (5)

Developing an Interactive County Mapping Tool to Advance Age-Friendly Policies, Programs and Planning in New Jersey

Rutgers Community Design for Health and Wellness $19,996

2019-2021 Role: MPI

Understanding the Impact of Age-Friendly Initiatives in Diverse Communities in Northern New Jersey

Grotta Fund for Senior Care and The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation $97,500

2019-2020 Role: PI

Life Course Socioeconomic Status and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease among African American Older Adults in Newark, NJ

National Institute on Aging $359,081

2018-2019 Role: MPI

Optimizing Cognitive Health in Later Life by Examining Childhood Socioeconomic Status as an Early-Life Risk and Protective Factor

National Institute on Aging $715,854

2017-2020 Role: MPI

Supporting the Development of Age-Friendly Community Initiatives in Northern New Jersey

Grotta Fund for Senior Care and The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation $127,000

2016-2018 Role: PI

Featured Articles (5)

Housing Plus Services, IADL Impairment, and Healthcare Expenditures: Evidence from the Medicare Current Beneficiaries Survey

The Gerontologist

Akincigil, A., & Greenfield, E. A.

2019 Despite enthusiasm for the potential cost savings of embedding supportive services in senior housing, few population health studies have empirically examined such associations.

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Advancing Program Theory for Licensed Assisted Living Services in Independent Housing

Journal of Housing For the Elderly

Greenfield, E. A.

2019 Assisted living programs (ALPs) embed licensed assisted living services within independent housing. To advance nascent research on this type of housing plus services, this study aimed to develop empirically grounded program theory on the processes through which ALPs benefit residents within independent housing.

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Community Gerontology: A Framework for Research, Policy, and Practice on Communities and Aging.

The Gerontologist

Greenfield, E. A., Black, K., Buffel, T., & Yeh, J.

2018 We introduce "community gerontology" as an area of research, policy, and practice that aims to advance understanding of communities as fundamental contexts for aging and its diversity, and to leverage this understanding for change. We present a foundational framework for community gerontology in three parts.

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Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Later Life Cognition: Evidence From the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

Journal of Aging and Health

Greenfield, E. A., & Moorman, S. M.

2018 This study examined childhood socioeconomic status (SES) as a predictor of later life cognition and the extent to which midlife SES accounts for associations. Methods: Data came from 5,074 participants in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Measures from adolescence included parents’ educational attainment, father’s occupational status, and household income.

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Getting Started: An Empirically Derived Logic Model for Age-Friendly Community Initiatives in the Early Planning Phase

Journal of Gerontological Social Work

Greenfield, E. A.

2018 Age-friendly community initiatives (AFCIs) foster efforts across stakeholders to make localities more supportive and inclusive of older adults, and potentially better for residents of all ages. This study drew on in-depth interviews with leaders of nine newly forming AFCIs in northern New Jersey to develop an empirically based logic model for the initiatives in the early planning phase.

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