Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fragile Families and the Reproduction of Inequality

The Sulzberger Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, presents:Fragile Families and the Reproduction of Inequality
featuring: Sara S. McLanahan, William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that non-marital childbearing and marital dissolution were undermining the progress of African Americans. Sara McLanahan argues that what Moynihan identified as a race-specific problem in the 1960s has now become a class-based phenomenon as well. Using data from a new birth cohort study, she shows that unmarried parents come from much more disadvantaged populations than married parents. She further argues that non-marital childbearing reproduces class and racial disparities through its association with partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility. These processes increase maternal stress and mental health problems, reduce the quality of mothers' parenting, reduce paternal investments, and ultimately lead to poor outcomes in children. Finally, by spreading fathers' contributions across multiple households, partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility undermine the importance of individual fathers' contributions of time and money which is likely to affect the future marriage expectations of both sons and daughters.

Sara McLanahan is the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She is a principal investigator for the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, directs the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and is editor-in-chief of the Future of Children. Her research interests include family demography, inequality, and social policy. She has written five books, including Fathers Under Fire (1998), Growing Up with a Single Parent (1994), and Single Mothers and Their Children (1986), and over 100 scholarly articles.

Tuesday, April 22, 20083:30 - 5 PMSanford Institute, Rhodes Conference RoomDuke University West Campus
Reception immediately following.
This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so please RSVP for this event by April 18 by visiting our web site at and clicking on the link for registration.
Parking for this event is available for a fee in the Science Drive visitor's lot or the Bryan Center parking deck. For directions, go to Please feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested.

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