Inequality of economic precarity and uncertainty and family formation and instability

Project Summary:

Economic inequality and family insecurity have risen in the United States over the past several decades. The interaction between the two phenomena is a matter of debate, as many researchers and policymakers have pointed to family structure, particularly non-marital childbirth, as a key source of rising economic inequality. But what if the relationship went the other way, and rising inequality and economic insecurity were themselves causes of family insecurity? The researchers tackle this question by looking at individual families and their evolution over time. Family instability has major implications for the development of human capital, which in turn feeds directly into long-term economic growth prospects.


Kristen Hartnett is an Associate Professor of Sociology and a Research Associate of the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include economic influences on marriage, cohabitation, and childbearing; the causes and consequences of lacking material and emotional support from friends and family; and the influence of sex ratio imbalances and other aspects of social context on romantic relationships and childbearing. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from Princeton University.