Lean in. Opt out. Have it all. None of the above.

Stew Friedman, founding director of The Wharton School’s Work/Life Integration Project, studied two generations of Wharton college students as they graduated: Gen Xers in 1992 and Millennials in 2012. The cross-generational study produced a stark discovery – the rate of graduates who plan to have children has dropped by nearly half over the past 20 years. At the same time, men and women are now more aligned in their attitudes about dual-career relationships, and they are opting out of parenthood in equal proportions. But their reasons for doing so are quite different.

In his new book, Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family, Friedman draws on this unique research to explain why so many young people are not planning to become parents. He reveals good news, that there is a greater freedom of choice now, and bad, that new constraints are limiting people’s options.

In Baby Bust, Friedman addresses:

  • How views about work and family have changed in the past 20 years
  • Why men and women have different reasons for opting out of parenthood
  • How family has been redefined
  • Why we are all now part of a revolution in work and family
  • What choices we face in our social and educational policy
  • How organizations and individuals – especially men – can spur cultural change

In the debates on work and family, people of all generations are calling for a reasoned, thoughtful, research-driven contribution to the discussion. In Baby Bust, Friedman offers just that: an astute assessment of how far we have come and where we need to go from here.

“What a wonderful book. Stew Friedman stands out as one of the few male voices in the field. He understands better than anyone else how leadership, life, and business can fit together. Baby Bust offers a fascinating glimpse into how young people think about their work, their families, and their futures. It’s a succinct and invaluable read for managers, politicians, and all men and women seeking to better understand how the world is changing and to support greater freedom of choice.”

—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America Foundation

“Baby Bust, based on Stew Friedman’s new groundbreaking study, documents the tremendous progress men and women have made in integrating work and life. Friedman’s insights and recommendations have generated thoughtful discussions in my household (two entrepreneurs with a young child). This is an essential read for business leaders who want to create an egalitarian workplace and contribute to the revolution in work and family choices.”

—Neil Blumenthal, Cofounder and co-CEO, Warby Parker

“Stew Friedman has always been a trailblazer, and he has done it again! The provocative finding that 2012 graduates of Wharton are much less likely to plan to have children than those 20 years ago will receive a great deal of attention. More importantly, Friedman has probed the complex reasons why, and these are even more significant and telling. A must-read for everyone—employees, employers, and families—so that we can be much more intentional in creating the workplaces and family lives of the future.”

—Ellen Galinsky, President, Families and Work Institute, and Author, Mind in the Making

“Stew Friedman’s unique cross-generational study finds both a triumphant new freedom for men and women and, at the same time, an indication of the deep conflicts between what we value and the lives to which we aspire. Baby Bust is a game-changing addition to the literature on work and family. Stew clearly and compassionately tells the story from the perspective of both men and women, echoing the challenges we all face as we seek to do meaningful work and have a meaningful life in today’s frenetic and tumultuous world.”

—Brad Harrington, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Work and Family

“Important data and fascinating insights about the revolution we are experiencing in work and family. A must-read for anyone seeking to better understand how the world is changing and what new models will require.”

—Leslie A. Perlow, Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Harvard Business School, and Author, Sleeping with Your Smartphone

“Provocative and practical, Stew Friedman’s Baby Bust draws on his landmark study to document the metamorphosis in men’s and women’s views and expectations for work and family. As more women are leaning in to their careers, more men today want to be actively engaged in fatherhood. But both see conflicts between work and family life that are increasingly keeping them from choosing to be parents. Revelatory and rigorous, this urgent call to action is required reading for anyone who wants both men and women to be able to choose the world they want to live in.”

—John Gerzema, Author, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future

“Stew Friedman’s Baby Bust is a wake-up call for business. The lack of strong business and public support for the positive enactment of caregiving, breadwinning, and career advancement has redefined what employees see as possible in their lives. The future economic health and well-being of the U.S. may be at risk. This eye-opening study raises the critical questions and provides practical ideas for change.”

—Dr. Ellen Ernst Kossek, Basil S. Turner Professor of Management, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management, and President of the Work and Family Researchers Network
  • Featured image for article: Stew Friedman Among HR Most Influential International Thinkers 2014
    HR Magazine, September 23, 2014

    Stew Friedman Among HR Most Influential International Thinkers 2014

    The writers and academics on the HR Most Influential International Thinkers list work on business models and innovation with important people management implications.

    Read More
  • Featured image for article: Why Child Care Is the Economy’s ‘Invisible’ Driver
    September 22, 2014

    Why Child Care Is the Economy’s ‘Invisible’ Driver

    “The cost of child care is one of the factors causing young people to opt out of parenthood — and that’s a problem,” Friedman notes. “It’s a problem that can be solved in terms of what the private sector can do, and what government can do to improve child care infrastructure and paid family leave.”

    Read More
  • Featured image for article: Why Millennials Should Have Kids—and Soon
    Time, September 17, 2014

    Why Millennials Should Have Kids—and Soon

    There are plenty of financial and lifestyle reasons to not have a child, but there are also costs to delaying or forgoing, notes MONEY reporter and first-time dad Taylor Tepper.

    Read More
  • Featured image for article: Ducks in a Row: the Need to Change
    RampUp Solutions Inc.,, January 21, 2014

    Ducks in a Row: the Need to Change

    Read More
  • Featured image for article: New Book: Baby Bust, by Stew Friedman
    October 15, 2013

    New Book: Baby Bust, by Stew Friedman

    Stew Friedman, founding director of The Wharton School’s Work/Life Integration Project, studied two generations of Wharton college students as they graduated: Gen Xers in 1992 and Millennials in 2012. The cross-generational study produced a stark discovery – the rate of graduates who plan to have children has dropped by nearly half over the past 20 years.

    Read More
  • View All

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