Sara McLanahan, Ph.D., Princeton University
Fragile Families, defined as unmarried couples with children, have increased dramatically during the past few decades, have increased dramatically during the past few decades, stimulating considerable debate among experts about the stimulating considerable debate among experts about the causes and consequences of family change. On the other hand, analysts argue that changes in family structure reflect the growing economic independence of women and are relatively benign. Others argue that such changes are perpetuating poverty and inequality. Dr. McLanahan’s presentation focuses on the lessons learned from a longitudinal study of unmarried parents and their children which followed children born to unmarried parents since 2000. Key questions include: how do parents view their relationships; are they casual or committed? What are the major barriers to marriage; are they economic or social? What happens to parental relationships over time? What happens to parents and children? Should society be concerned about these families?