Dr. Cuesta’s research focuses on understanding how countries approach social problems emerging from dramatic changes in family structure, especially the increasing proportion of children being raised apart from one of their parents (usually their father), and the extent and consequences of these rapid transformations of families worldwide. Two distinct but closely related lines of inquiry animate her research program. The first focuses on understanding the role of social policies, particularly those related to child support from nonresident fathers, in the economic well-being of disadvantaged families and children in Latin America and the United States, especially single-mother families. The second focuses on understanding the trends, determinants, and consequences of family change in Latin America. In all her work, Dr. Cuesta strives to understand poverty and income inequality (and related social problems) and the ways governments attempt to mitigate these problems through social policy. She often applies a comparative perspective, which provides new insights into issues within individual countries.

Her current projects examine family complexity in Chile and Colombia; approaches to child support policy in several middle- and low-income countries; and the role of child support policy in the economic well-being of families and children in Chile, Colombia, and the United States. Dr. Cuesta’s work has been funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), Universidad de los Andes Center for Studies on Economic Development, the Rutgers University Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the Rutgers University Research Council, and Global Rutgers.

Courses Taught: 

Advanced Contemporary Policy: Economic Justice for Families and Communities

Methods of Social Work Research I

Selected Recent Publications: 

Cuesta, L. & Reynolds, S.A. (2023). Does couples’ division of labor influence union dissolution? Evidence from parents of young children in Chile. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 44(3), 584-601. doi:

Cuesta, L., Hakovirta, M. Haapanen, M.*, & Meyer, D.R. (2023). Child support policy in middle and low-income countries: Current approaches and policy dilemmas. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 39(1), 64-83. doi:10.1017/ics.2023.4 

Cuesta, L., Guarin, A., & Eickmeyer, K. (2022). Understanding child support arrangements in Colombia: A social exchange theory perspective. Family Relations, pp.1-18. doi: 

Hakovirta, M., Cuesta, L., Haapanen, M.*, & Meyer, D. R. (2022). Child support policy across high-income countries: Similar problems, different approaches. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 702(1), 97-111.   

Vogel, L.K., Pilarz, A.R., Cuesta, L., & Caffrey, G.*. (2022). “A Helping Hand Over a Heavy Hand”: Child Support Enforcement in the Era of COVID-19. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 46(5), 392-413. doi: