Tag Archives: new year

Breaking: 2018 is almost over (year-end report)

Thank you to everyone who read and responded this year.

These are some of the good things that happened in 2018 that may be of interest to blog readers. I was on sabbatical. A new edition of my textbook, a book of essays, and some papers came out. President Trump was compelled by a Federal court to unblock me on Twitter. The excellent Joanna Pepin finished her PhD, and other students made great progress. I was elected to ASA’s Committee on Publications.

On the blog, productivity was good this year, with visits up 14% to 330,000, on traffic to 49 new posts. Blogging lives. In the longer-format genre, I posted a number of working papers and preprints, and two had stand-out performances: One on divorce trends and one a review of Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West (3100 downloads between them).

In the shorter-format genre, Twitter impressions were down 10% this year, to 23 million. After a surge in June following the President unblocking me, my impressions declined over the remainder of the year. Maybe the Twitter algorithm isn’t serving my tweets to as many people, or my tweets aren’t as good, or maybe I spent less time on Twitter.

On the blog, these were the top ten posts written in 2018:

1. Theology majors marry each other a lot, but business majors don’t (and other tales of BAs and marriage). Some data and a a suggestion for further research using college major and marital events data in the American Community Survey.

2. Mark Regnerus to be promoted to full professor at UT Austin. The University of Texas central administration overrode negative recommendations from both the Department of Sociology faculty and the College of Liberal Arts, to commit millions of dollars to Regnerus over the rest of his career. Bad decision.

3. Visiting Israel, with demography (this is not sustainable edition). Little-known fact about Israel: it’s population growth is unsustainable, in addition to everything else. I visited, got data, and took pictures.


Mahane Yehudah Shuk, Jerusalem, on Friday afternoon (photo pnc: https://flic.kr/p/23AxGdJ)

4. Campus sexual harassment coverage, UMD circa 2003. Revisiting an old story about a sexual harassment charge against David Segal, one of my sociology department colleagues. I’d like to think things would be reported differently now.

5. Michael Kimmel’s American Sociological Association Award. In which I urged the American Sociological Association not to give the prominent sociologist its award for feminism after he was credibly accused of sexual misconduct. (They didn’t follow my advice.)

6. Trump Twitter suit argued in federal court. With the Knight First Amendment Institute and six other plaintiffs, I sued President Trump for blocking me on Twitter. After oral arguments in New York, I got to speak to reporters literally on the courthouse steps. (We won the case, he unblocked us, and the case is now under appeal.)


Photo by Scott Matthews.

7. Notes for a review of “Cheap Sex,” by Mark Regnerus. A terrible book by an objectionable sociologist. The long version of my review.

8. Fertility trends explained, 2017 edition. Putting a marked US fertility decline in context, with figures and code. Conclusions: the economy is probably about to tank, and the U.S. fertility rate is still relatively high for our income level, especially for racial-ethnic minorities. I hope you listened to me and sold your stock back in May.

9. Breaking: In 2017 names, Donald, Alexa, and Mary plummet; Malia booms. Taking the collective cultural temperature with name trends.

10. Demographic facts your students should know cold in 2018. The annual appeal to teach basic demographic facts. I love the attention this gets.

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Family Inequality year-end review

It’s been another year online. Here’s my report. Feel the excitement, because it’s 2017.

This year I only wrote 54 Family Inequality blog posts, down from 77 last year; the 2010-2016 average was 130 per year. On the plus side, despite a 30% decline in posts, I only had a 7% decline in visits to the blog. Thanks!

On the third hand, while the blog had a little less than 300,000 visits this year (down from a peak of 428,000 in 2015), my tweets had more than 25 million views in 2017, according to Twitter analytics. Yikes. The peak in Twitter hits was May, with 4.8 million views. President Trump blocked me on Twitter on June 6, and I haven’t hit more than 2 million views in a month since. Who among us a year ago could have predicted our current relationship to the president of the United States (and his truth-and-soul crushing army of minions)? Our lawsuit against the president and his staff proceeds; the latest news is posted here.

2017 twitter impressions

The big blog news for the year is actually offline, the publication of my new book, Enduring Bonds: Inequality, Marriage, Parenting, and Everything Else That Makes Families Great and Terrible. I selected the best of the 900 blog posts on here, then revised them, updated them, and combined and organized them. The result is eight chapters of surprisingly (to me) fresh essays. I’m super happy with it, and hope you (and maybe your students) are, too. Order an exam copy or buy it from University of California Press or Amazon.

So here are the top 10 blog posts written this year:

1. Prince Charles and Princess Diana height situation explained. I’ve been covering this issue since 2010, because someone has to. It finally got the attention it deserves with this, my most blockbuster tweet ever, so I wrote a post putting it all together. Yes, they really were the same height.


2. Demographic facts your students should know cold. This one led to lots of good discussion about teaching and learning demography in relation to other subjects, fake news, and so on.

3. More bad reporting on texting and driving, and new data. For years the New York Times has been publishing hysterical pieces about texting and driving, apparently in the service of selling Matt Richtel’s book. When David Leonhardt jumped with more nonsense in I updated my series. (Also, don’t text and drive.)

4. Sexual harassment: Et tu, Sociology? My colleague Liana Sayer and I made an offer. If you have first-hand knowledge of sexual harassment in sociology, tell us about it. We’ll collect information and report on it. Some people have contacted us. I hope more will. We’ll report back as we can.

5. Kids these days really know how to throw off a narrative on gender and families. What’s going on with young men’s gender views? Trying to tell the story as new data comes out (with code).

6. How I choose sides like it’s 1934. If I’m wrong — a false-positive read on the catastrophicness of the situation — that’s a better mistake to make than the false-negative mistake of not taking Trumpism and all this seriously enough until it’s too late.

7. Teaching Black family history in sociology, student resistance edition. A teachable moment about a teaching moment, about what happened to Black families during slavery, and how that relates to the present.

black children married parents 1880-2015

8. Race/ethnicity and slacking at work. Does new research show Black workers slack off more, and is working harder for the man really a sign of good character? Modern economics and a history lesson from Robin D. G. Kelley.

9. Marriage update: less divorce, and less sex. Married Americans are having less sex, and divorcing less. Go figure!

10. On artificially intelligent gaydar. My problems with that paper demonstrating a method of identifying sexual orientation from people’s profile pictures.

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Book gift ideas for the Family Inequality reader

Here are some book recommendations for the Family Inequality reader or sympathizer on your year-end gift list. This year I opened up my social media accounts for recommendations for books published in 2017. I haven’t read all these, but each of them has been recommended by at least one person (not counting the author). Worth a look!

This list is arbitrary and I’m not the authority on what books to buy or read. Please feel free to add your own in the comments (including your own!).


Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Maybe the most talked-about book in my feeds this year. The New York Times called it “revelatory,” adding: “With great compassion and analytical rigor, Cottom questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy: that a postsecondary degree always guarantees a better life.”

Interrogating Ethnography: Why Evidence Matters, by Steven Lubet. For Contexts, Syed Ali wrote, “Ethnographies are strange birds. Unlike much journalism and other forms of research, they suffer from a lack of replicability… Basically, ethnographic practice is kind of a black box. The output is the book and we’re impressed. But we have no idea how it was made. The ethnographer is asking us to trust them. Lubet says they should trust the readers more and lay everything out as transparently as possible. I agree.” My comments on the book, in audio form, are here.

stuff of family life

The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives, by Michelle Janning. I wrote on the back cover: “Stuff and space, and how we interact with and relate to them, are at the intersection of house and home—and at the heart of this wonderful book. They shape our most intimate interactions, and therefore our relationships, our families, and the larger social world that they reflect and create. Michelle Janning leads us on an enthralling sociological journey through the objects and spaces of home—from LEGO and love letters to tables and toilets—to illuminate the social life of families.”

myth of millionaire

The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich, by Cristobal Young. The headline on Young’s essay in Commonwealth was, “Taxes Don’t Make Millionaires Move,” which is the bottom line, but how he got there, with great data and analysis, is as important as that take-home message.

Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality, by Ellen Berry, Robert L. Nelson, and Laura Beth Neilsen. Elizabeth Hirsh blurbed: “As the authors convincingly show, rather than enhancing workers’ rights, employment discrimination litigation often reinforces the very hierarchies it was intended to diminish. This is a fascinating study, well researched, written, and argued.”

citizen outsider

Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France, by Jean Beaman. Terri Givens blurbs: “An important contribution to the study of immigration and race in France, bringing the voices of second-generation North Africans into the debates around what it means to be French and what it means to be Maghrébin/Black at a time when the politics of immigration are creating volatile situations in the banlieus (suburbs) of France and fueling support for Far Right politicians.”

Are Racists Crazy? How Prejudice, Racism, and Antisemitism Became Markers of Insanity, Sander L. Gilman and James M. Thomas. Howard Winant blurbs: “They study the deep structures of racism, not only in plunder, privilege, and antipathy for the ‘other,’ but also in the scientific frameworks that seek to explain ‘otherness,’ sometimes affirming it, sometimes denying it. Locating racism within biopolitics, Are Racists Crazy? sheds new light on such varied matters as implicit bias and authoritarian populism. Most important, this book unveils the inescapable political connections between race and science”

kill it to save it

Kill It to Save It: An Autopsy of Capitalism’s Triumph over Democracy, by Corey Dolgon. I remember Corey’s activist folk-singing at Michigan in the early 1990s, and also having my mind blown in a history class with Robin D. G. Kelley, who blurbs: “To understand the popularity of Donald J. Trump and the prevailing logic that turns billionaires into job creators, unions into job destroyers, and climate scientists into godless Communists, we need Corey Dolgon. Clear-eyed and perceptive, Dolgon reveals that the new ‘common sense’ upholding privatization, deregulation, wealth concentration, and the erosion of democracy and civil liberties as the only path to prosperity was not the handiwork of Fox News and wily neocons but the outcome of a deeper ideological and cultural shift.”

someone to talk to

Someone To Talk To, by Mario Luis Small. The book “follows a group of graduate students as they cope with stress, overwork, self-doubt, failure, relationships, children, health care, and poverty. He unravels how they decide whom to turn to for support. And he then confirms his findings based on representative national data on adult Americans.” Bernice Pescosolido blurbs: “The reality of who affects our lives through contact is much more complicated, messy, and sometimes even random than contemporary theory and methods suggest. This fascinating book taps into the complex, networked fabric of our lives, revealing ground truth.”

down the up staircase

Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Look at these blurbs! From Jeffrey Toobin (“combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story”), Dalton Conley (“channels W. E. B. Du Bois to provide a rich sociological portrait of his ‘talented tenth’ family”), Mitchell Duneier (“masterful at linking the small personal details of everyday family and community life to social structure and history”), George Lipsitz (“delineates vividly how poverty and downward mobility do not make people noble, resilient, and resourceful, but instead shatter social ties and self-esteem”).

Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists, by Arlene Stein and Jessie Daniels. A nuts-and-bolts how-to on public engagement, with chapter titles including, Writing beyond the Academy, Telling Stories about Your Research, Books for General Audiences, and The Perils of Going Public.

Also, I have three new books coming in 2018, all available for pre-order now. Check out the updated books page!

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Year-end report

The state of our blog is strong. Family Inequality readership grew 20% in 2015. That continues a pattern of slowing annual growth:


But it’s a good result compared with our old-new-media benchmarks, Facebook and Twitter, which had annual year-to-year growth rates of 17% and 11% through the 3rd quarter (slower in North America). So progress is good, media-empire-wise.

According to Twitter’s analytics, @familyunequal followers skew a little female (52%), college-educated (54%), high-income (half over $75,000), professional, and single (55%). In terms of interests, they are most into politics, news, and books — much more than the Twitter average. In consumer style, Twitter says they’re into (in descending order): premium brands, ethnic explorers, natural living, fresh and healthy, vegetarian, Mexican food, and Kosher (the last one at twice the Twitter average).

Come to think of it, instead of passively penalizing me for my social media work, my university should probably fine me for not monetizing this audience better (I pay WordPress to have no ads on the blog).

In related publishing news, my textbook is being used to teach thousands of undergraduate students at more than 100 colleges (some of their instructors share ideas and resources on a Facebook group). And I’m happy to report that I have a contract with the University of California Press to produce a collection of revised and edited essays from the blog, to be published in 2016.

Here are the top 12 most-viewed posts written in 2015.

12. Herculean dimorphism. Thanks in part to a hefty repost on Sociological Images, this turned out to be one of the most popular in my series on sex dimorphism in popular culture.

8. New data on gender-segregated sociology. Our discipline is internally gender segregated, and also increasingly female-dominated professionally (but not yet overwhelmingly so, as I showed in a followup post).

7, 9. How random error and dirty data made Regnerus even wronger than we thought. With the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision (teaching supplement here), the pressing importance of this research dispute subsided, but it’s still going on. This year we learned that the Regenerus/Wilcox research was worse than we even knew, and also that the anti-gay-parenting community is still trying to make a peer-reviewed paper trail for future use (post number 9).

6. How about we stop moralizing and end child poverty tomorrow? The simple observation, supported by a few calculations, that the U.S. has plenty of money to lift every poor child out of poverty if we wanted to.

5. No, you should get married in your late 40s (just kidding). A little debunking of the latest bit of you-better-marry-early advice, based on age at marriage and divorce risk. A classic example of overreaching to turn minor research blips into breaking news personal-life advice.

4, 10, 11. On the ropes (Goffman review). Everything Alice Goffman was big in U.S. sociology this year, producing three of the top 11 posts: my review of her book, reporting that my comment was rejected by the American Sociological Review, and my proposed a rule change for the American Sociological Association’s dissertation award (to require the winner to make their dissertation publicly available), which is on its way to approval, I hope.

3. Our broken peer-review system, in one saga. A blow-by-blow report on how Lucia Lykke and I tried – eventually successfully – to publish a paper on attitudes toward pornography.

2. Charter, private, and wealthy schools lead California vaccine exemptions. Using data from the state, some simple analysis showing how vaccine-exempting parents cluster in some schools. (Inspired by work Kieran Healy did.)

1. How we really can study divorce using just five questions and a giant sample. This post was aided by a big day on Reddit’s Data Is Beautiful page, because of the heat-map graphics showing divorce risk by age at marriage and marital duration. (Also a warning to look at marital history of both partners, which little research in this area does – because more than 1/3 of women marrying for the first time over age 35 have husbands who’ve been married before.)


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Year-end stats

This year Family Inequality again doubled its hit count, which means treading water in Internet space-time.

The most popular 36 posts this year, reduced to key words looked like this:


Those hits were partly the result of links from other blogs, Facebook and Twitter. But a lot came from search engines. These are the 50 most common search engine searches that brought people to the blog (not including “family inequality”):


Specifically, from all sources, these were the top 10 most-viewed posts of the year (some of which weren’t written this year):

10. The richer sex (is men). A critique of Liza Mundy’s Time cover story, with some of the figures I gave her that got left out.

9. Time travel: Regnerus study timeline suggests superhuman abilities. Double-take on the infamous paper, which was submitted for review before the data collection was finished.

8. Do Asians in the U.S. have high incomes? Asked a simple question, but got not such a simple answer. (This post gets a lot of visitors from Europe. Why?)

7. Single parents, crime and incarceration. How I came to believe that “incarceration causes single-parent families more than single-parent families cause crime.”

6. Stop that feminist viral statistic meme. This one from 2011 is served up over and over, often with links from anti-feminist sites. To repeat: I’m a feminist, and women own more than 1% of world property.

5. 200 researchers respond to Regnerus paper. The blog hosted this group-effort letter to flag Mark Regnerus’s paper and the process that got it published.

4. Poverty, single mothers and mobility. Childhood poverty matters more than family structure for upward mobility; and the U.S. punishes single-mother families more than other countries.

3. One case of very similar publications, with some implications and suggestions. Two articles published in good journals, with not much daylight between them. What can we do about the academic publication problem(s)?

2. Smurfette? How do they get away with this stuff? OK, most people who click on this seem to be just looking for a list of Smurf names, but I hope some of them read the post.

1. The bathroom icon has no clothes. This one is from 2010, but never stops getting clicked. Some people may be looking for bathroom porn, some looking for the iconic icons to copy. But some read it for what one person called it’s “Exquisite, provocative analysis of sexism in symbols.” Shucks.

Thanks for another year, folks. Stay in touch!

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