Elizabeth Frankenberg’s research focuses on three thematic areas: the ways in which the health and social service environment shape the well-being of individuals, the ways that interactions among family members influence well-being, and how individuals respond to changes induced by unexpected events.

Frankenberg has exploited shocks – economic crises and natural disasters – to observe their influence on human capital and resource investments at the individual, household, and community level. Most recently, Frankenberg has examined the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami on psycho-social well-being, post-traumatic stress as a function of exposure to community trauma, and the impact of the orphanhood after the tsunami on children’s short- and longer-run well-being. Research is oriented toward better understanding responses by individuals and policy makers in the aftermath of shocks.

With collaborators, Frankenberg has directed several large-scale longitudinal surveys in Indonesia, including the Indonesian Family Life Survey and the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery, funded by grants from NIA and NICHD. These surveys integrate innovative measures in satellite imaging and biomarkers with more traditional modes of survey research.