Why Marriage Is the Best Environment for Kids

“Two married parents are the best environment for kids, on average,” says Isabel Sawhill in this podcast about her new book, Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage. Adding that “we all know single parents who are doing a great job,” Sawhill explains how her research and data show that gaps in education, family structure and parenting styles create unequal starts for American children in the aggregate. Seventy percent of all pregnancies to unmarried women under 30 are unplanned, she says, and today 40 percent of all children in American are born outside marriage. In the podcast, Sawhill, a senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Children and Families, talks about one of the central themes of the book: how to change “drifters” into “planners” in order to “have people take responsibility and make explicit choices about when to have children, whether to have children, who to have children with, and not to treat it so casually.”

* N.b.: In the podcast, Sawhill refers to the concept of “marriage-go-round” and cites Kathy Edin. The phrase “marriage-go-round” was originally used in sociologist Andrew Cherlin’s book of the same name. The phenomenon has, however, also been referred to by Edin as the “family-go-round.”

(29:03) In a new feature, Senior Fellow David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, offers his thoughts in “Wessel’s Economic Update.”

(31:10) Introducing a new series of FixGov blog posts on the website that will focus on the upcoming midterm elections. The series will feature Brookings scholars discussing key policy issues in the election, and spotlights from academics on key senate races.

Show Notes:

Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage
Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing
Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy
The Fiscal Barometer
• FixGov blog’s 2014 midterm elections series

Send feedback and questions for podcast guests to [email protected].