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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...

Praise for Baby Bust

“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

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