Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Cherlin, Andrew J.
Location Johns Hopkins University
Primary Field Social and Political Sciences
 Election Citation
Cherlin is a social demographer who documents family change and its socioeconomic effects. He has shown that marriage has lost practical importance in the U.S. but has greater symbolic social standing than ever, causing the institution to strengthen in the upper classes but weaken in the lower classes.
 Research Interests
Cherlin's field of research is best described as family demography: the causes and consequences of demographic changes in the family lives of parents and children. He has written widely on this topic during a period of intense change in family life in the U.S. and the world. During the first two decades of his career, much of his research and writing focused on union formation and dissolution. His 1978 article on the lack of cultural and social support for families formed by remarriage after divorce remains the most highly-cited article on remarriage. His 1981 book, revised and updated in 1992, demonstrated that the 1950s was the most unusual period of family life in the twentieth century. In a 1991 interdisciplinary study with several collaborators, he found that a substantial share of the seeming effects of divorce on children were present before the parents separated. ~ ~In the mid-1990s, after Congress overhauled the main cash welfare program for poor families, he formed an interdisciplinary group to study the consequences of what became known as "welfare reform" for the well-being of children. In the 2000s and early 2010s he wrote several broader treatments of the nature of family change, including a widely-cited essay on the emergence of "capstone marriage:" the transformation of marriage from the start of the transition to adulthood to the end. More recently, he has written books about the distinctive nature of American family patterns compared to the rest of the developed world and the declining fortunes of the working-class family as employment opportunities for people without bachelor's degrees have declined.

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