This superbly written book, drawing on insights from behavioral economics, provides clearheaded, actionable recommendations on how we can change course and ensure that every young person can achieve their full potential.―Mark Edwards, Executive Director, Opportunity Nation
No one is better qualified than Isabel Sawhill to tackle two of the most important questions facing America today. At a time of rapidly changing family structure, who is best able to raise children? And how can we do a better job of making sure the children who are born are welcomed by parents who are prepared to give them the love and sustained attention they deserve? Full of new research and analysis, this book will make you re-think what you know about both.―Judy Woodruff, PBS Newshour
Forty years ago, Isabel Sawhill inspired a generation of scholars, including myself, with her landmark research on divorce. Now she does it again, turning her sharp eye on nonmarital childbearing with equal success. Free of ideology and comprehensive in scope, her story highlights how the decline in marriage is affecting children’s life chances and what might be done to reverse the trend.―Sara S. McLanahan, William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs,
Dr. Sawhill makes a thoughtful, fresh, rigorously documented case for reducing unplanned pregnancies. She pushes against a strong headwind to argue for two-parent families as often as possible. If she is right about the economic and cultural implications of our changing procreation behavior, we have a lot of work to do.―Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services
From the Inside Flap
Over half of all births to young adults in the United States today occur outside of marriage, and most are unplanned. This trend is driving a growing class divide. At the top are “planners,” who are marrying and having children only after establishing a career. At the bottom―and increasingly in the middle―are “drifters,” who are having unplanned children early, outside of marriage, and without the stable support of a second parent. This divide is contributing to rising inequality and decreased social mobility for both young parents and
The political right calls for a return to traditional marriage; the left proposes more social programs to help less advantaged families. In
Generation Unbound, Isabel V. Sawhill offers a provocative third approach: turning “drifters” into “planners” and thereby ensuring that more
children are born into families with the means and motivation to care for them―and saving billions of dollars in social costs.
How do we make this shift? Drawing on behavioral economics, Sawhill offers recommendations for preventing unplanned pregnancy among young adults―for example, by offering greater access to long-acting reversible contraception (such as IUDs) to help
stem the tide of children born to parents who are unprepared for the financial and social responsibilities of raising a child.