Sara S. McLanahan

Princeton University


Election Year: 2011
Primary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

As a sociologist, I have spent most of my career studying the causes and consequences of family structure and family stability. I am especially interested in the role of the family in the reproduction of poverty and disadvantage. My early research focused on children of divorced parents. My recent research focuses on children born to unmarried parents. I am a PI of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study which is following a cohort of about 5,000 children born in large US cities between 1998 and 2000. The study has led to several new findings about the lives of unmarried parents and their children, including high levels of father-involvement at birth and high levels of partnership instability and growing sibling complexity after birth. In addition to the original aims of the study, the Fragile Families data have been used by social scientists from a variety of disciplines to study topics of importance to disadvantaged populations, such as the prevalence and consequences of fathers' incarceration, the wellbeing of children born to immigrant parents, and the impact of the "great recession" on low income families. Our research team is currently using the data to examine the interplay between genes and family environments.

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