Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., is one of America’s leading family sociologists and researchers on aging. Dr. Pillemer is Professor of Human Development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Throughout his career, Dr. Pillemer’s research has focused on how family relationships develop and change throughout people’s lives. His research takes place in the real world of families and professionals who work with them. 

Fifteen years ago, he realized that he had spent most of his career focusing on the problems of families, rather than solutions: “It suddenly hit me that for life’s major challenges, I should go to people who have lived through them and tap their wisdom. So I began a quest to gather the practical advice of real people who surmounted difficulties, survived, and eventually thrived. By distilling and sharing their strategies for success, I could help create a path for everyone in similar situations.”

In his new book, Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, Dr. Pillemer takes on the devastating problem of family estrangement. Based on interviews with hundreds of people both estranged and reconciled, the book answers  such questions as: Why is estrangement a silent epidemic with devastating effects? What leads families into a rift? Most important: What can people do who want to repair broken family ties? Blending social science research with powerful individual stories, Fault Lines is a must-read for people in estrangements and those who love them. 

Dr. Pillemer’s first book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, became a bestseller and then, a classic. Dr. Pillemer sought out hundreds of extraordinary individuals in their 70s, 80s, and beyond for guidance on living well while growing old in today’s complex world. Readers loved the sage advice and great stories from extraordinary older Americans who shared what they wish they had known when they were starting out. 

His second book returned with lessons on love and marriage, drawing on interviews with people married 30, 40, 50 years and more. The book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage, offers unique wisdom that will enrich anyone’s relationship life, from people searching for the right partner to those working to keep the spark alive after decades together.

Karl Pillemer lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, Clare McMillan. He is the father of two daughters, Hannah and Sarah, and the grandfather of (scientifically and objectively speaking) the most adorable grandchildren in the world, Clare, Thomas, and Mark. When not writing, you may find him running, biking, and playing the guitar (badly).

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