Unequal Family Lives: Causes and Consequences in Europe and the Americas

Cambridge University Press

Across the Americas and Europe, the family has changed and marriage is in retreat. To answer the question of what's driving these changes and how they impact social and economic inequality, progressives have typically focused on the economic causes of changing family structures, whereas conservatives tend to stress cultural and policy roots. In this illuminating book, an international group of scholars revisit these issues, offering competing and contrasting perspectives from left, center, and right, while also adding a third layer of analysis: namely, the role of gender - changes in women's roles, male employment patterns, and gendered family responsibilities - in driving family change across three continents. Unequal Family Lives: Causes and Consequences in Europe and the Americas adds richness and depth to our understanding of the relationship between family and economics in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

As the first volume to tackle family inequality in Europe and the Americas, the book offers a comparative picture of the role of family inequality across Europe and the Americas. It brings together competing and contrasting perspectives from left, center, and right on the relationship between family structure and economic inequality. It provides interdisciplinary perspectives and brings together authors from 'think tanks' and universities.



Introduction: Laurie F. DeRose, Naomi Cahn, June Carbone and W. Bradford Wilcox

Part I. The Increasingly Unequal Socioeconomic Character of Family Life:

  1. “Families Unequal: Socioeconomic Gradients in Family Patterns across the US and Europe” Marcia J. Carlson
  2. “Family Forms and Social Inequality in Latin America” Albert Esteve and Elizabeth Flores Paredes

Part II. The Causes of Increasingly Diverging Family Structures:

  1. “How Inequality Drives Family Formation: The Prima Facie Case” Andrew J. Cherlin
  2. “Universal or Unique? Understanding Diversity in Partnership Experiences Across Europe” Brienna Perelli-Harris
  3. “Family Structure and the Decline of Work for Men in Postwar America” Nicholas Eberstadt

Part III. Consequences of Growing Divergence:

  1. “Single-Mother Families, Mother's Educational Level, Children's School Outcomes: A Study of 21 Countries” Anna Garriga and Paolo Berta
  2. “Family Structure and Socioeconomic Inequality of Opportunity in Europe and the United States” Diederik Boertien, Fabrizio Bernardi and Juho Härkönen
  3. “Families and the Wealth of Nations: What Does Family Structure Have to Do with Growth Around the Globe?”  W. Bradford Wilcox and Joseph Price

Part IV. Bridging the Growing Family Divide:

  1. “Family Policy, Socioeconomic Inequality and the Gender Revolution” Fran Goldscheider and Sharon Sassler
  2. “Where's the Glue? Policies to Close the Family Gap”  Richard V. Reeves

Part V. Commentary and Concluding Reflections:

  1. “The Pathology of Patriarchy and Family Inequalities” Lynn Prince Cooke
  2. “Concluding Reflections: What Does Less Marriage Have to Do with More Family Inequality?” W. Bradford Wilcox
  3. “Commentary/Afterword/Concluding Thoughts on Family Change and Economic Inequality” June Carbone and Naomi Cahn.


Buy the book from Cambridge University Press or download chapters on Open Access, here.