Family Inequality in the news
Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2014: How We Meet Our Spouses
Though the leads of “How I Met Your Mother” are likely to end the series coupled off, many Americans aren’t so lucky. “Most demographers believe that about 15% of Americans will never marry, up from only 5% in the 1950s and early 1960s,” says Stephanie Coontz… And about half of those who married in 2012 will eventually divorce, according to sociologist Philip Cohen of the University of Maryland.
Cosmopolitan, March 7, 2014: Are Women Hiding Their Career Achievements From Potential Partners?
“It’s great to see men openly saying they want women who have ambitious career trajectories,” says Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, who studies changing gender and family dynamics. “If they follow through on those statements — relocating for her job or taking the day off when the kids are sick, even half the time — that’s even better. The more people successfully model such relationships, the more men might turn these statements into real-life changes.”
Live Science, February 24, 2014: The truth about how mom’s stress affects baby’s brain
“Controlling for mother’s age and father’s age, I find that the more education you have, the less likely your child is to have a disability,” [Cohen] told Live Science. Additionally, “the more income your family has, the less likely your child is to have a disability.”
Albany Business Review, February 13, 2014: Divorces up 17 percent in New York since recession ended
“In this recession, it appears that the increased costs were a bigger factor than the increased strains, so the divorce rate fell temporarily before rebounding when people were able to manage the expense and related difficulties of the divorce itself,” Cohen said.
Gawker, January 28, 2014: Now That The Economy Is Back, Time to Get Divorced
We’ve had some hard times in the past five years. But thanks to The Fed and Almighty God, the economy is booming again. Now you can finally get divorced. … Congratulations on your new job and Match.com profile.
Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2014: Divorces rise as economy recovers, study finds
Divorces plunged when the recession struck and slowly started to rise as the recovery began, according to a study to be published in Population Research and Policy Review. From 2009 to 2011, about 150,000 fewer divorces occurred than would otherwise have been expected, University of Maryland sociologist Philip N. Cohen estimated.
Cleveland Public Radio’s The Sound of Ideas, January 13, 2014: War on Poverty: Who’s Winning?
I said: “You can think about ways that we can provide the sustenance needed [for single parents] so that people can live happy and successful lives and children can grow up and thrive. We do that a little bit with our patchwork of poverty support programs. But we don’t have a very comprehensive effort at taking care of the people who do that valuable work that we all benefit from.”
Wisconsin Public Radio, January 6, 2014: The War on Poverty’s Effect on Families
I said: “People who have children and can’t get a job, or can’t manage to hold a job while they are taking care of their family responsibilities, that’s work. It’s effort, it’s productive, it takes creativity. It produces something of value that other people benefit from. And the idea of spreading resources around to make sure that people who do that kind of work are also cared for — I guess justice’ is a good word for it. It also seems like common sense.”
Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2013: ‘Men are stuck’ in gender roles, data suggest
Familiar measures of progress toward gender equality, such as women working in management or men picking up housework, began to plateau in the 1990s. Cohen found that in the first decade of the millennium jobs stayed similarly segregated by gender — the first time since 1960 that gender integration in the workplace had slowed to a virtual halt.
MSNBC The Cycle, December 2, 2013: Continuing the fight against ‘the pay gap’
I said: “We really saw a strong pattern of women entering men’s occupations, especially in middle class jobs. But not so much movement the other way. … There’s a lot more we can do support the work-family integration that I think is going to help break down these gender barriers.”
Gender News, September 26, 2013: Gay marriage, politics, and the ivory tower
I said: “The general direction of social change is toward increasing diversity in family form and structure. The law and other institutions are catching up to this…but also will inevitably have to come to grips with the fact that we cannot legislate for every situation in advance. We need universal principles of protection and equality.”
Christian Science Monitor, September 17, 2013: US poverty rate steady at 15 percent, but ‘lower class’ is booming
I said: “The overall economic uncertainty exacerbates some of the problems we’re having. Look at this intensive parenting mania … that’s partly because we see inequality widening and we don’t want our kids to end up on the wrong side of that line.”
Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2013: Amid slow economic recovery, more Americans identify as ‘lower class’
University of Maryland sociologist Philip N. Cohen, who pointed out on his blog the rising numbers of people identifying as lower class, hypothesized that more struggling twentysomethings were doing so because fewer have been raised in union households.
Washington Post, September 11, 2013: Children suffer from growing economic inequality among families since recession
“The vast majority of people want to have long-term, stable relationships,” said Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies family inequality. “The fact that rich people are becoming more able to do that than poor people is just another indicator of the unequal society we live in.”
CSPAN Washington Journal, September 6, 2013: The Changing American Household
“Welfare reform was supposed to crack down and make people get married before they had children, and it really didn’t. What it did do was make it harder for them to get by with their children.”
MSN News, August 8, 2013: Rumor, Smarter Women Have Fewer or No Children
Cohen continued: “…this claim is socially corrosive, because it distracts us from the reality that low fertility levels are essential for women’s equality and well-being, and have in fact contributed to the historical rise in education levels — and independence — for women.”
Huffpo Live, August 5, 2013: Legally Defining a Family
I said: “I don’t think specifying the nature of the relationships the law is going to recognize in advance is going to help us. We need to try to specify the concrete relationships in individual cases and protect those.”
Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2013: Controversy Continues Over Gay Parenting Study
In a post to his blog, Family Inequality, Philip N. Cohen, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, calls for editor James Wright, professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, to step down. Cohen says he’ll boycott the journal as a contributor and reviewer until Wright leaves the Elsevier publication and urges others to do so.
Huffpo Live, June 28, 2013: The Disestablishment of Marriage.
“We really have never tried a society in which marriage was truly free and voluntary. It’s always been that one or the other spouse has been forced, coerced, or needed marriage for their survival or well-being. So we don’t know what it would look like to have a society in which marriage was really freely chosen.”
International Herald Tribune, June 28, 2013: Redrawing the Family Debate.
“Is ‘the family’ a barbaric, premodern holdover institution, perpetuating irrational relations and inherited forms of inequality?” Philip N. Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies the institution, writes on his blog. “Or is it a ‘haven in a heartless world,”’ he asks, “one of the few places where people still have any loyalty to anyone but themselves? I think it’s both.”
Time Healthland, June 13, 2013: What part family plays in poverty.
“Black child poverty fell drastically during the 1990s and then rose again during the 2000s,” notes Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland. “Why? It wasn’t family structure that did it, it was the economy principally—and, economists would say, the Earned Income Tax Credit.”
Washington Post, May 29, 2013: Nearly 40 percent of mothers are now the family breadwinners, report says.
“The decade of the 2000s witnessed the most rapid change in the percentage of married mothers earning more than their husbands of any decade since 1960,” said Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies gender and family trends. “This reflects the larger job losses experienced by men at the beginning of the Great Recession. Also, some women decided to work more hours or seek better jobs in response to their husbands’ job loss, potential loss or declining wages.”
Inside Story Americas on Al Jazeera English, May 10, 2013: The American single mother’s burden.
I said: “The deficits that single mothers have are money and time. And if you can’t afford high quality child care – and very few people can – and you don’t have time because you are working at a low wage job that isn’t flexible, doesn’t permit time off and can fire you for missing a day of work, then the complications add up.”
The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio, March 26, 2013: Converging Gender Roles.
A Pew Research Center poll on time use shows fathers have more than doubled the amount of time they spend on housework, and almost a quarter of single-earner families have women as the sole breadwinner. Joy Cardin speaks to sociologist Philip Cohen about how family gender roles are converging and what this means. (MP3 Audio file here)
The Daily Circuit on Minnesota Public Radio, March 5, 2013: The Women’s Movement 50 Years After The Feminine Mystique
In which Philip Cohen says, “The concept of stall has been growing on us in the last 10 years, and as you look across the indicators the evidence is now very strong.”
Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2013: The Rise of Women
For those who do make it to college, “The biggest problem for gender inequality among the college-educated remains the lack of gender integration across fields of study,” said Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Midday with Dan Rodricks, January 30, 2013: The Pay Gap
In his inauguration speech, President Obama highlighted equal pay for women as a priority for his second term. It has been 50 years since another Democratic president, John F. Kennedy, signed the Equal Pay Act, which mandated compensation equality between the sexes. While women have made gains in pay, they still lag 18 to 20 percent behind their male peers. Our guests: Linda Barrington, managing director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell; Philip Cohen, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and author of the Family Inequality blog; and Kate C. Farrar director of the American Association of University Women Campus Leadership Programs.
Wall Street Journal‘s The Numbers Guy, December 7, 2012: Fertility Figures
“The birth rate and general fertility rate are much easier to measure because you don’t need to know the ages of the women having children, just how many babies and how many total people or women,” said Philip N. Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, College Park. “So sometimes we use them for historical trends and comparisons.”
Marketplace, November 29, 2012: Census breaks down occupations by gender, ethnicity
Philip Cohen is a sociologist at the University of Maryland. He says women did make great strides in the ’70s and ’80s, but things have stagnated since. “And I think one of the reasons why we haven’t seen more progress is women have sort of hit a wall where there’s not enough flexibility at home and work,” he says. Cohen says employers could help by being more open to flextime. And the government could step in with more public preschool programs.
Time Healthland, October 19, 2012: Tracing the Link Between Single Moms and Gun Violence
“I think the research shows that the biggest negative effect of single parenthood results from lack of resources,” says Cohen. “Getting people married is not the answer, getting families the support they need is.”
New York Times, October 12, 2012: Want Your Union to Last? Marry in New Jersey
A study of other data by Philip N. Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, found that Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and North Dakota had the lowest rate of divorces the previous year compared with their populations — only 6 or 7 per 1,000, compared with 31 states that recorded more than 10 divorces per 1,000 residents, and Oklahoma, where nearly 14 per 1,000 said they were divorced.
To The Point on KCRW, September 14, 2012: Is This the End of Men?
Philip Cohen: “The idea that women are rising to an actual position of dominance is completely invented and there really is no evidence for this. It’s a projection into the future, which you can do, but there’s just no evidence for it. … At all ages, at all education levels, men earn more than women. … So we have change in the direction that Hanna Rosin is talking about, but there’s … no historical basis for projecting into the future and saying we’re actually toward female dominance. I think we need to see if we can find a place for equality in our imaginations.”
Zocalo Public Square, September 9, 2012: In Praise of the Male Biological Clock
“The age difference between a husband and wife is a big predictor of gender inequality,” said Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, explaining that even a small difference in earnings affects how a family makes decisions like who should stay home with the children or dial back a career.
New York Magazine, August 16, 2012: Do the Rich Get More Recession Divorces?
It is possible, says Cohen, that the small uptick in divorces among educated people in fragile housing markets represents the tip of an iceberg — that if the economy continues to sputter along, more people will contemplate breaking up but delay it until they can get disentangled, causing a pent-up demand and, eventually, a boom. He calls this the divorce/recession lull-rebound hypothesis.
Life’s Little Mysteries, August 1, 2012: Why Is Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?
“This happened during a time when mass marketing was appearing,” Cohen told Life’s Little Mysteries. “Being ‘gender normal’ is very important to us, and as a marketing technique, if retailers can convince you that being gender normal means you need to buy a certain product — cosmetics, plastic surgery, blue or pink clothing, etc. — it just makes sense from a production or mass marketing perspective.”
NPR’s Talk of the Nation, June 12, 2012: Improving the lives of single moms and their kids
COHEN: I think it’s important to realize that there are different ways of investing in children’s future. It can be direct through their own education and care, and it can also be through investment in the skills and opportunities of the parents. And if we can cross that hurdle of public recognition that we have a collective interest in that kind of investment, I think we’ll be much better off and find that, like with good-quality childcare, making education available to single parents may translate into not only economic benefits for them but future benefits for the children.
Time Healthland, June 11, 2012: Do Children of Same-Sex Parents Really Fare Worse?
Another damning critique: the NFSS compares kids of “any parent who ever ‘had a relationship’ with someone of the same sex to those who lived with both married biological parents from birth to age 18,” says Philip N. Cohen, professor of sociology at University of Maryland, College Park. “It is not about people who were ‘raised by’ lesbians or gay men.”
Time Magazine, March 26, 2012: The Richer Sex
The glass ceiling remain solid; according to Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, the percentage of managers who are women has risen from 35% to only 38% in the past 20 years.
ABC2-TV, May 14, 2012: “Is it cheating if you have permission?”
Cohen says people are creating their own definitions of what makes a successful union. They marry later, have kids without ever marrying at all and even marry several times, looking for the perfect partner. Cohen says, “Traditional marriage is really still an ideal that many people, I would say, most people still hold. What they find is it’s often not practical or doesn’t work.”
NPR, Jan, 2, 2012: Google Searches Are A Window Into Our Culture
Philip Cohen: “On the liberal list are arugula pasta, beets nutrition, beets urine, fake meat, fennel salad, firm tofu, a variety of vegetarian cooking, vegetarian recipes. Something like a Republican stereotype of what a liberal food diet might be.”
NPR, Dec. 20, 2011: Marriage Economy: ‘I Couldn’t Afford To Get Divorced’
Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that multiple studies have found that the marital distress that comes from money problems and feeling trapped is strongly associated with an increased risk of domestic violence. “I’m quite confident from the research on couples — and what drives violence within couples — that among the people who are experiencing economic shock or dislocation or unemployment, there is an increased risk of violence. And I would not expect that to be any different during this recession.”
Time Healthland, Dec. 12, 2011: The Five Secrets of Happily Married Parents,
“Marriage can be beneficial, but that does not necessarily mean that taking unmarried people and persuading them to get married will bring them all those benefits,” says Cohen, who thinks getting people educated and employed would do more to create happy families.
Marketplace, Aug. 30, 2011: Multigenerational home numbers on the rise
Philip Cohen: “Well, the first thing that happens is that people turn to those they expect to care for them, or people that have some moral obligation. And whether its young people looking up a generation or old people looking down a generation, the family is the first place that people have to turn.”
Raleigh News Observer, July 25, 2011: What’s happening to all of North Carolina’s men?
Women giving birth to more boys than girls is “apparently evolution’s answer to the fact that, as the weaker sex, males die more often at all ages,” said Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill.
WUNC The State of Things, Feb. 8, 2011: Happily Ever After
Host Frank Stasio considers the changing state of our personal unions with guests Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the blog “Family Inequality”; Leah Stewart, author of the novel “Husband and Wife”; Kristin Celello, author of the book “Making Marriage Work”; and Lisa Levenstein, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
WUNC The State of Things, Aug. 11, 2010: The Aging of the Baby Boom Generation
Philip Cohen: So if you were born in 1960, graduated college in 1982, and entered the labor force in the middle of an awful recession, then managed to pull some kind of career together, got married and divorced, by the 90s it was time to be downsized already for the first time, you’re 40 in 2000, and it’s time for the dot-com bubble, you’re out of your job again, and here you are ready for your retirement, finally, you’ve been left in your own 401(k), having to put together your own pension, and of course now that’s in the tank and your house isn’t worth anything. So that insecurity and instability is really imprinted this group. We talk about the 60s, and civil rights and antiwar, and great music and everything, but that’s seeming like a long time ago now for people who are looking at retirement.
Newsweek, June 11, 2010: “I Don’t” — The Case Against Marriage
“The bottom line is that men, not women, are much happier when they’re married,” says Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina who studies marriage and family.
WRAL-TV, Nov. 4, 2009: Mothers struggle with work-home balance
Philip Cohen: “The pressure falls on [women], and all the progress we’ve made has so far not alleviated that pressure.”
For older bits, see the Press Clips section of my Office Door.