Mullen Lecture with Dr. Melissa Kearney
Part of the Fall 2023 Social Sciences Forum
The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind
The Mullen Lecture series presents Dr. Melissa Kearney, the Neil Moskowitz Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The share of US children growing up with the benefits of a two-parent household has declined sharply in the past 40 years, driven by changes in household structure among parents without a four-year college degree. The two-parent household is now a privilege experienced disproportionately by the children of college-educated parents. The shift away from the two-parent family among non-college educated parents reflects a reduction in marriage among these adults and the decoupling of marriage from childbearing. The erosion of the two-parent family outside the college-educated class has exacerbated class gaps in childhood resources – and consequently, opportunities and outcomes. This new reality undermines the promise of equal opportunity and social mobility. Improving the lives of our nation’s children and closing class gaps in children’s economic outcomes will require that we confront the critical role that family plays in shaping the trajectory of children’s lives, address the factors that have driven these seismic societal changes, and do much more to curtail the widening class divergence in childhood environments.
Organized by the Department of Economics and cosponsored by the Center for Social Science Scholarship