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Bringing Back Marriage and Fatherhood: The pro-family policy agenda needed for strong communities and a thriving economy

In “post-Roe America” thinkers on right and left are vigorously urging a new federal family policy. Unfortunately, much of the propsed policy targets only mothers and children.

W. Bradford Wilcox, senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, joins us to present data-backed studies that show that a truly effective family policy agenda must also integrate fathers, and bolster marriages and families.


W. Bradford Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.

In his latest work with Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos (Oxford, 2016), Brad Wilcox shines a much-needed spotlight on the lives of strong and happy minority couples. They find that both married and unmarried minority couples who attend church together are significantly more likely to enjoy happy relationships than black and Latino couples who do not regularly attend. Churches serving these communities, Wilcox and Wolfinger argue, promote a code of decency, encompassing hard work, temperance, and personal responsibility, that benefits black and Latino families.

Professor Wilcox’s research has focused on marriage, fatherhood, and cohabitation, especially on the ways that family structure, civil society, and culture influence the quality and stability of family life in the United States and around the globe. Now, Dr. Wilcox is exploring the contribution that families make to the economic welfare of individuals and societies. He is also the coauthor of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives (Columbia, 2013, with Kathleen Kovner Kline), and the author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago, 2004). Wilcox has published articles on marriage, cohabitation, parenting, and fatherhood in The American Sociological Review, Social Forces, The Journal of Marriage and Family and The Future of Children.

His research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Slate, National Review Online, NPR, NBC’s The Today Show, and many other media outlets. Wilcox consults regularly with companies such as Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and Kimberly-Clark on fertility and marriage trends in the United States.

As an undergraduate, Wilcox was a Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia (’92) and later earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Prior to coming to the University of Virginia, he held research fellowships at Princeton University, Yale University, and the Brookings Institution.

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