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Baby Bust

New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family

Stewart D. Friedman

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

A new book based on a groundbreaking cross-generational study reveals both greater freedom and new constraints for men and women in their work and family lives.

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 light of these present realities, he offers ideas for what we can do as a society, in our organizations, and for ourselves to make it easier for men and women to choose the lives they want.

In this book, 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.

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About the Author

Stewart D. Friedman

Stewart D. Friedman is the Practice Professor Emeritus of Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1991, he founded both the Wharton Leadership Program and the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. While on academic leave, from 1999 to 2001, he served as the senior executive responsible for leadership development at Ford Motor. There he created the Total Leadership program, which marries the work/life and leadership development fields and is now used around the world. Working Mother named Friedman one of America’s 25 most influential men to have made things better for working parents. His widely cited publications and internationally-recognized expertise led Thinkers50 to select him as one of the “world’s top 50 business thinkers,” and the Families and Work Institute honored him with its Work Life Legacy Award. ... More


“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


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In the Media

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May 22, 2017  |  The Atlantic
How People Decide Whether to Have Children
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March 20, 2017  |  Philly.com
Childbirth for women in their 30s at 50-year high
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August 17, 2015  |  The New York Times
Work Policies May Be Kinder, but Brutal Competition Isn’t
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May 12, 2015  |  LinkedIn
The Truth About Millennials, Children and Careers
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May 11, 2015  |  Harvard Business Review
Millennials Say They’ll Relocate for Work-Life Flexibility
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April 8, 2015  |  The Denver Post Business
Lauren Sveen: Changing social norms also changing the norms of work
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February 4, 2015  |  AARP.org
Why Millennials Are Waiting to Have Children
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September 23, 2014  |  HR Magazine
Stew Friedman Among HR Most Influential International Thinkers 2014
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September 22, 2014
Why Child Care Is the Economy’s ‘Invisible’ Driver
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September 17, 2014  |  Time
Why Millennials Should Have Kids—and Soon
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January 21, 2014  |  RampUp Solutions Inc.,
Ducks in a Row: the Need to Change
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January 21, 2014  |  Business Insider
Young People Expect To Work More And Achieve Less
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January 15, 2014  |  Dealbook.nytimes.com
On Wall Street, a Generation Gap on Work-Life Issues
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January 10, 2014  |  Parents.com
Millennials Aren’t Planning on Having Children. Should We Worry?
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January 9, 2014  |  Bustle.com
Do Millennials Want to Have Children? It's Complicated
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December 17, 2013  |  Bulletproofexec.com
Be Real. Be Bold. Be Innovative. With Stew Friedman
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December 10, 2013  |  Bright Horizons at Work
Work, Life, and Millennials: What Employers Need to Know
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November 29, 2013  |  The Washington Post
Bye bye, baby
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November 26, 2013  |  MomsRising.org
Generation Zero—Why Millennials, And All of Us, Need Family-Friendly Laws
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November 20, 2013  |  The Shriver Report
Of Babies and Men: A Stay-at-Home Dad Reflects on Stewart Friedman’s Baby Bust
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November 18, 2013  |  BigThink.com
Having Kids Today is Not Impossible, But Something Must Change
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November 14, 2013  |  Wall Street Journal
On Our Radar: A 7-Point Plan for Working Parents
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November 11, 2013  |  Harvard Business Review
7 Policy Changes America Needs So People Can Work and Have Kids
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November 7, 2013  |  The Globe and Mail
Why leaders are saying: Career first, kids -- maybe never
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November 7, 2013  |  Huffingtonpost.com
The New Sexy: Millennial Egalitarian Men
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November 5, 2013  |  PsychologyToday.com
Bye Bye Babies: The baby bust may last since Millennials are realistic about work and life.
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November 5, 2013  |  LeanIn.org
What 800 Undergrads Can Teach Us About Work, Parenting and Leaning In
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October 31, 2013  |  Wharton Magazine Blog
20 Years and No Closer to Sustainable Work/Life
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October 29, 2013  |  NYCDadsGroup
Baby Bust, Millennials Opting-Out of Parenthood with Guest: Stew Friedman
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October 24, 2013  |  KeystoneEdge.com
Only 4 in 10 Wharton undergrads want kids
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October 23, 2013  |  UndertheButton.com
Baby, Baby, Baby, NOOOO!
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October 22, 2013  |  The Wharton Journal
Lean in, opt out, have it all — for both men and women
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October 22, 2013  |  HuffingtonPost.com
7 Policy Changes We Can Make to Reverse the Baby Bust
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October 17, 2013  |  Forbes.com
Why Wharton Undergrads Are Saying 'No' To Having Kids
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October 17, 2013  |  HREOnline
The Flextime Fraternity
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October 16, 2013  |  PhillyMag.com
Wharton Researcher Says Young People Uninterested in Parenthood
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October 16, 2013  |  CBS Philadelphia
Wharton Prof. Sees Continuing Decline in Young People's Interest in Parenthood
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October 15, 2013  |  The Daily Pennsylvanian
Prof researches family life of Wharton grads
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October 15, 2013  |  WJON.com
WJON Interview with Stewart Friedman, Author of Baby Bust
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October 15, 2013  |  The Daily Beast
The New Knight in Shining Armor
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October 5, 2013  |  Forbes.com
Baby Bust: Millennials' View Of Family, Work, Friendship And Doing Well