Carroll L. Estes

Policy Advocate and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco

Carroll L. Estes, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she founded and directed the campus-wide Institute for Health & Aging (1979-1998), and chaired the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (1981-1992) in the School of Nursing. Estes has been a member of the Academy since 2009, and also serves on the Academy’s membership committee.

Recognized as a founding scholar of the “political economy of aging” and “critical gerontology,” Estes is a writer and public speaker who has authored, co-authored, and co-edited 24 books including: The Aging Enterprise (1979), Social Policy and Aging (2001), Social Theory, Social Policy and Ageing (2003), Social Insurance and Social Justice: The Campaign Against Social Security and Medicare (2009), and the latest, Health Policy: Crisis and Reform (2013). Her book, The Long Term Care Crisis, was named one of 1994’s Most Important Books by Choice Magazine. Estes’ current research is on Social Security and Medicare policy, health reform, long term care, and elder women’s economic and health security. Her latest book is Aging A-Z: Concepts Toward Emancipatory Gerontology (2018). 

Estes was recently awarded the National Senior Citizens Law Center Advocacy Award. “We are proud to honor Carroll with this distinction,” says Kevin Prindiville, Academy Member and Executive Director of the National Senior Citizens Law Center. “Carroll’s research on Social Security, Medicare, health reform, long term care, and gender disparities, in addition to her strategic approach to partnership and advocacy, has impacted the lives of millions of older adults.”

Estes is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and past president of three national organizations in aging: The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the American Society on Aging (ASA) and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). Estes is immediate past-chair of the Board of Directors of The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and current Board Chair of the National Committee Foundation. She is Board Chair of the Center for Global Policy Solutions. She served as consultant to U. S. Commissioners of Social Security and to U. S. Senate and House Committees on Aging for more than three decades.

In 2014 Estes received the University of California Medal, the UCSF’s highest recognition. The League of Women Voters named Estes, “A Woman Who Could Be President” in 1998 and The National Organization of Women (NOW) named her a “Woman of Action” (2012). Other academic honors include the UCSF Faculty Research Lecturer, the Chancellor’s Award for the Advancement of Women, and the School of Nursing’s Nahm Research and Doctoral Mentor Awards. She is an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).

Estes has received Distinguished Scholar Awards of the American Sociological Association, the Pacific Sociological Association, the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American Society on Aging (ASA), the Gerontological Society (GSA) and AGHE. For her scholarship and advocacy, she has awards from the National Senior Citizens Law Center and Sociologists for Women in Society.

Estes’ research appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Health Care Financing Review, Health Affairs, Milbank Quarterly, Social Science and Medicine, The American Journal of Public Health, The American Journal of Sociology, and The Gerontologist, among other journals. Her edited volumes, The Nation’s Health (with Philip Lee) and Health Policy (with Charlene Harrington), have been adopted in 400 Schools of Medicine and Nursing.

Estes received her A.B. from Stanford University, M.A. from Southern Methodist University, Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Russell Sage College. She has been visiting professor at the London School of Economics and the Sorbonne in Paris. Estes’ daughter, Duskie and her two granddaughters, Brydie and Mackenzie, inspire her commitment to social insurance in gender, race and class.