Looking for our new site?

Modern Family: Coupling and Uncoupling in America

As a society, America is in a moment of great transition regarding how we think about marriage and family life. Gay marriage is becoming mainstream at a speed that surprises even its most optimistic advocates, with a Supreme Court decision expected this month that is certain to bring further changes. Divorce rates are falling and marriages among college-educated, upper middle class people are more stable than they have been in decades, even as marriage rates overall are in decline, particularly among the working class and poor.

These trends raise questions about whether we are seeing widening racial and class divides in the ways that Americans form families. Long term unmarried partnerships are more accepted than ever, yet paradoxically, particularly among the well-educated and well-off, the stigma attached to divorce appears to be increasing. There’s a move afoot to ban permanent alimony—a cause championed by working wives. A recent Pew study found that women are the breadwinners in 40 percent of American households.

Join the New America Foundation on June 12 as we examine complicated questions about race and social class, about the effects of women's growing earning power on family life, about how couples divide domestic responsibilities, and about the ways our gender roles and perceptions are changing, perhaps forever.

Join the conversation online by tweeting @NewAmerica and using #NAFfamily.


12:00 p.m. My Mother’s House: Will Single Motherhood Become the Norm?
Katherine Zoepf
Fellow, New America Foundation
D'Vera Cohn
Senior Writer, Pew Research Center
Jason DeParle
Staff Writer, The New York Times
Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow, New America Foundation
Katie Roiphe
Author, In Praise of Messy Lives
Associate Professor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University
12:45 p.m. Lunch
1:15 p.m. Split Decisions: New Directions in Divorce
Casey Greenfield
Matrimonial Lawyer
Partner, Greenfield Labby LLP
Naomi Cahn
Harold H. Greene Professor of Law,  The George Washington
University Law School
Author, The New Kinship: Constructing Donor-Conceived Families
Co-author, Red Families, Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of
Wendy Paris
Author, Splitopia (Simon and Schuster, 2015)
The Rev. Daniel Mattila, LCSW
Director, Cognitive Therapy of New York
Episcopal Priest
2:00 p.m. The Law of the Land: Will Gay Marriage Change Marriage, and if So, How?
Naomi Cahn
Liza Mundy
Author, The Richer Sex and “The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss,” in the June 2013 issue of The
Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow,  New America Foundation
Jonathan Rauch
Guest Scholar, The Brookings Institution
Author, Denial: My 25 Years Without
a Soul (newly published ebook) and Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for
Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America
Martha Ertman
Carole & Hanan Sibel Research Professor of Law,
University of Maryland
Author of “The Upside of Baby Markets” 
2:45 p.m. Break
3:00 p.m. Home Economics: How the Changing Economy Shapes Decisions to Marry—or Not Marry
Liza Mundy
Betsey Stevenson
Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan
Columnist, Bloomberg View
Former Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Labor
Justin Wolfers
Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Event Time and Location

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 12:00pm - 3:45pm
New America Foundation
1899 L Street NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

Related Programs

Event Photos

Click here to view these photos.
A range of photos from this event are available on Flickr. Click on the icon at left to view or download the photos.