Deborah holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan, where she also trained at the Population Studies Center. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, she joined the University of Minnesota’s policy school in 1992. She is a Professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with nine teaching awards to her record. Her sabbatical years were spent at the International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, (2001-2002) and as a technical advisor to the Whole Village Project in Tanzania (2009-2010). She has served on the advisory committee to the International Labor Office’s division on child labor research, is currently an investigator on the IPUMS-International project and does occasional consulting.
Deborah studies the work (both labor force and “chores”) and schooling of children in low-income countries. Her research challenges a number of assumptions about child labor and her published paper on “Child Domestic Servants in Latin America” demonstrating that it is possible to estimate numbers of live-in child servants there. Her co-authored book, Rights and Wrongs of Children’s Work (2010), explores the place of work in children’s lives and development. More recently, Deborah has worked on projects related to child work and education in Brazil, Egypt, and Colombia.