Amy Ziettlow
Affiliate Scholar,
Institute for American Values
December 8, 2011
Happy New Year!
Institute for American Values.


See the most recent event held in our Center for Public Conversation:

When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable

A Conversation with W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia and Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values (coauthors of the State of Our Unions 2011, When Baby Makes Three) and David and Amber Lapp, researchers at the Institute for American Values.

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The new 2011 edition of The State of Our Unions gained wide attention in the media.

The Generous Marriage

Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, December 8, 2011

"From tribesmen to billionaire philanthropists, the social value of generosity is already well known. But new research suggests it also matters much more intimately than we imagined, even down to our most personal relationships."

Read the Article | And read reactions at Andrew Sullivan's blog The Dish and Rod Dreher's blog at The American Conservative

National Marriage Project Finds Recipe for Married Parents' Happiness

Ellen Tumposky, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, December 8, 2011

"'When Baby Makes Three,' a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families of the Institute for American Values, finds that one-third of married couples keep their relationship strong even after parenthood."

Read the Article | And watch the video

How to Keep Parenthood From Keeping Your Marriage Miserable

Elizabeth Marquardt and W. Bradford Wilcox, The Atlantic, December 8, 2011

"By embracing some new values -- like date nights, shared housework, and an ethic of marital generosity -- and some old values -- like commitment, thrift, and a shared faith -- it appears that today's parents can dramatically increase their odds of forging a stable and happy marriage. This means that couples need not despair after the arrival of a baby. If one-third of today's married parents can successfully combine marriage and parenthood, surely many more can flourish when baby makes three."

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Generous Couples Have Happier Marriages

Rachael Rettner,, December 8, 2011

"Generosity between spouses is a key element to a happy marriage, a new study says...In the study, couples who reported a high amount of generosity in their relationship were five times more likely to say their marriage was 'very happy,' compared with those who reported a low amount of generosity."

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Happy Marriages Require Generosity

Stephanie Hallett, Huffington Post, December 16, 2011

"The 'State of our Unions' report, released earlier this month, showed that among married couples with children who were generous to each other, about half said they were 'very happy' in their marriages. But how can married people apply these findings to their real lives? And what does this tell us about marriage today? HuffPost Weddings spoke to the Associate Editor of the report, Elizabeth Marquardt, to learn more."

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Double X Gabfest: The Robo-Panda Edition

Jessica Grose, Hanna Rosin, and June Thomas, Slate, December 15, 2011

"In this week's Gabfest, Slate senior editors Hanna Rosin and Jessica Grose, along with Slate contributor June Thomas, discuss 'When Baby Makes Three,' a new paper from the National Marriage Project [and the Institute for American Values]."

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The Cratchit Tax Credit

Ross Douthat, New York Times, December 24, 2011

"A recent survey of American parents found that 58 percent of married women with children preferred part-time to full-time work, compared with 20 percent of husbands."

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Let's Revive Marriage in America

Mike McManus, Baltimore Sun, January 3, 2012

"I recommend that clergy read "The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2011," by the Institute for American Values.... [The report] provides scientific evidence of what every pastor has long believed: 'Couples who both agree that 'God is at the center of our marriage' are at least 26 percentage points more likely to report that they are 'very happy.'"

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Generosity With Spouse Key to Why Married Parents Happier Than Others, Study Says

Lois Collins, Deseret News, December 12, 2011

"[G]enerosity ranked just behind sexual satisfaction and commitment as a predictor of a happy marriage. A positive attitude toward raising kids came in fourth. For the last of the top 5, men valued spirituality within a marriage, while women valued a strong network of social support from friends and family....The findings are part of the State of Our Unions 2011 report, 'When Baby Makes Three -- How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable.'"

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Be Kind and Have Sex 'Till Death Do You Part

Vicki Larson, Huffington Post, December 13, 2011

"Remember when you and your sweetie were dating? Besides being unable to take your hands off each other, you most likely were engaged in a mutual admiration society -- he'd tell you how beautiful you looked in that dress, you'd tell him that you love the way his eyes turn from bluish to greenish on cloudy days....Most relationships start off this way, and those loving beginnings are what send many couples walking down the aisle together to say, 'I do.' They vow to care for each other 'for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part.' Oddly they do not vow to continue to be so kind and complimentary to each other. Perhaps they should -- a new study by the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project indicates that generosity -- 'the virtue of giving good things to one's spouse freely and abundantly' -- greatly contributes to marital happiness."

Read the Article

The State of Our Unions report also provoked considerable debate on the blogosphere.

Do Working Moms Really Prefer Part-Time Jobs?

KJ Dell'Antonia, New York Times blog MotherLode, December 16, 2011

"Tara Parker Pope wrote about [The 2011 State of Our Unions] for last Sunday's Times Magazine ["The Generous Marriage"]. But hidden beneath the advice for couples was a section on the way social and cultural factors that are difficult for an individual to control impact marital/parental happiness."

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Why Do So Few Mothers Want to Work Full-Time?

Jessica Grose, Slate blog XX Factor, December 13, 2011

"We've been hearing for the past couple years about how women are surpassing men in the workforce. Young, childless women in particular are going gangbusters -- they're making more money than their male counterparts. Because that's the current narrative, I was pretty bowled over by statistics in the National Marriage Project's new State of Our Unions report, which shows that once women become mothers, they eschew full-time work by a staggering dregree."

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The Five Secrets of Happily Married Parents

Belinda Luscombe, Time blog Healthland, December 12, 2011

"Do kids make marriage unbearable? Marital satisfaction surveys seem to suggest so, as do anecdotally rich cover stories of popular magazines. So, should we not get married? Or not have kids? Or just be miserable? These are the questions addressed by the latest in what is becoming the annual report for Marriage, Inc.: The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America."

Read the Article

To Keep Marriage Healthy When Baby Comes, Share Housework

Jennifer Ludden, NPR blog Shots, December 8, 2011

"In a survey of 2,870 married couples, the National Marriage Project of the University of Virginia found that more than a third of them buck the trend, managing to stay happy through the emotional, physical and financial strains of new parenthood. So, how do they do it?"

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Want to Keep Marriage Healthy When the New Baby Comes? Share Housework

Lauren Jimenson, Babble, December 13, 2011

"[The State of Our Unions report] was 'able to identify ten aspects of contemporary social life and relationships -- from marital generosity to shared housework to religious faith to sexual satisfaction -- that appear to boost women and men's odds of successfully combining marriage and parenthood.'"

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Keys to Marital Happiness While Raising Kids

Rick Nauert, PsychCentral, December 9, 2011

"Parenthood is not for the faint at heart, as self-reported happiness and marital satisfaction often decline with the arrival of a child. Still, more than one-third of married couples continue to thrive even after a baby comes along. A new report from the National Marriage Project discovers the secrets of success appear to come from a parenting approach that incorporates old values into a contemporary framework."

Read the Article

Common Traits of Long and Happy Marriages

Stacy Kaiser, USA Today blog LifeSolutions, December 22, 2011

"If everyone in an intimate relationship heeded the findings in [the 2011 State of Our Unions] report, there would be a lower divorce rate, stronger relationships and happier people overall."

Read the Article

Finally, the new findings also drew international attention.

And Baby Makes...Trouble

Adele Horin, Brisbane Times, December 17, 2011

"Husbands and wives both 'benefit when they embrace an ethic of marital generosity that puts the welfare of their spouse first,' write the researchers Elizabeth Marquardt and W. Bradford Wilcox."

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The Parental Happiness Curve

W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt, MercatorNet, December 19, 2011

"Given the negative association between marital happiness and parenthood, one might expect that the least happy husbands and wives would be parents of large families. Not so. In a striking finding, it turns out that the relationship between family size and marital happiness is not linear, but curvilinear. In other words, according to the Survey of Marital Generosity, the happiest husbands and wives among today's young couples are those with no children and those with four or more children."

Read the Article

Our other work in marriage and families, including findings from Why Marriage Matters, The Marriage Index, and the 2010 edition of The State of Our Unions, also continue to inspire commentary in the media.

Divorce Research 2011: Top 11 Findings of the Year

Ashley Reich, Huffington Post, November 30, 2011

"The University of Virginia's National Marriage Project [and the Institute for American Values] released a report in August 2011 titled 'Why Marriage Matters' that suggested that kids living in cohabitating households don't do as well socially, educationally, and psychologically as kids living in intact married households."

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Where is the Love in R&B Music?

John Blake, CNN, December 3, 2011

"Today, we have a black first family, but our own families are collapsing. A 2009 study from the Institute for American Values and the National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting at Hampton University in Virginia highlights the erosion. The study found that while 70.3% of all black adults were married in 1970, that rate dropped to 39.6% by 2008. The study also showed that while 37.6% of black births were to unmarried parents in 1970, that figure soared to 71.6% by 2008. Our music became as grim as those statistics. Singing about love now seems outdated."

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Marriage Rate Falls to Record Low in U.S., Pew Says

Enjoli Francis, ABC News blog Headlines, December 14, 2011

"'In the minds of Americans, getting married and becoming parents are two different things,' [Institute senior fellow W. Bradford Wilcox] said. 'Their top priority is being a parent, second to having a successful marriage. People have separated the two things. Years ago, they were closely linked to one another.'"

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Married Couples at a Record Low

Carol Morello, The Washington Post, December 13, 2011

"'Half the births to high school-educated moms are out of wedlock,' [Institute senior fellow W. Bradford Wilcox] said. 'Among that group, we're at a tipping point. Marriage is losing ground among middle Americans. They were doing okay until the last decade or so, and now they're the most at risk. College-educated folks have been doing pretty darn well.'"

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Marriage: Fading, Fading

Editorial, The Charleston Gazette, December 28, 2011

"A social transformation is altering mainstream America. Part of it is caused by the evolving culture. Part is caused by economic decline. The change is least-noticed among successful, educated people -- but it's painful to the two-thirds majority. It's disturbing to watch marriage erode among those with fewer opportunities. As long as Republicans in Washington serve only the elite 1 percent, and Democratic efforts to help the middle class are thwarted, this sad trend probably will continue."

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Marriage Gap Grows; Cohabiting Becoming 'New Norm'

Lois Collins, Deseret News, December 4, 2011

"Between 1960 and 2009, the number of nonmarital cohabiting couples -- "sexual partners who are not married to each other but share a household" -- in the United States increased more than fifteenfold, according to "The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2010."

Read the Article

What Children of Divorce Do and Don't Learn

Judith Wallerstein, Huffington Post, December 7, 2011

"Children of divorce, as Elizabeth Marquardt wrote when reminiscing about her own childhood, are called upon to become little chameleons."

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Sperm Donor Children Speak Out

Christine Dhanagom,, December 5, 2011

"There are only four things Alana Stewart knows about her father: he has blonde hair, blue eyes, a college degree, and his assigned number at the sperm bank where he sold half of Alana's genetic code is 81. She is one of an estimated 30,000 - 60,000 children conceived each year in the United States through sperm donation. A former egg donor herself, Alana is now a vocal critic of the practice, which she calls 'the violent act of buying and selling a child.'"

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Pray For the Men at Christmas

Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson, South Florida Times, December 18, 2011

"[A]ccording to Dr. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates. Research indicates a direct correlation between crime rates and the number of single-parent families in a neighborhood. Dr. Whitehead indicates further that the relationship (between single-parent families and crime) is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime."

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Cuomo vs. Cuomo on Casinos: Andrew, Heed Mario -- Gambling Will Not Help New York

David Blankenhorn and Andrew Yarrow, New York Daily News, January 4, 2012

"As Governor Andrew Cuomo makes his case this week for amending the New York State Constitution to legalize casino gambling, we should also listen to his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. While the current governor seems likely to trot out familiar talking points -- that casinos will generate revenues for state government and create jobs -- his father bluntly said in 1994 that bringing casinos into a state 'doesn't generate wealth, it just redistributes it.'"

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More Casinos? Think Again

David Blankenhorn,, January 2, 2012

"There's actually a lot to learn about casinos. For example, the casino lobby brags that casinos will create jobs and it's true that any new economic activity -- from loan sharking to triple-X movie theaters -- will create jobs. But research shows that only some of these activities actually contribute to economic growth, and casinos -- mainly because they produce nothing of value -- are not among them."

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Taking a Chance on New Casinos

Journal News Editorial,, January 2, 2012

"Cuomo's gamble would no doubt enjoy wide support in job-starved communities. Nonetheless, it already faces sharp opposition from one group, The Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values, which describes itself as a New York City think tank. Its December survey of economists concludes that casinos are bad for crime rates, family budgets, and the overall economy. It contends most casino jobs are low-wage, low-skill positions, and says casinos cause 'leakage' of dollars from other taxable sectors, such as restaurants."

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Obama DOJ Helping to Facilitate Expansion of Online Gambling

Dave Bohon, The New American, January 3, 2012

"Pointing out that the DOJ memorandum was mainly focused on states that wanted to sell lottery tickets online, Les Bernal, executive director of the organization Stop Predatory Gambling, said that the opinion was essentially an invitation for 'state governments to open a lottery retailer in every home, office, dorm room, and handheld phone with an internet connection, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.'"

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Administration Clears Way for Online Gambling

Brandon Miller, US Election, December 26, 2011

"Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling said [...], 'I think the notion that the government -- during these economic times -- is working even harder to increase personal debt goes against the very purpose of what government is supposed to do.'"

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Internet Decision Helps Rally Some Gaming Stocks

Chris Sieroty, Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 28, 2011

"'We were strongly surprised by the Justice Department's decision,'" Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday in a phone interview. 'It expands a government program that pushes people deeper into debt. It's also creating addicts to feed off of it.'"

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