Millennials and the ‘success sequence’: How do education, work, and marriage affect poverty and financial success among millennials? - AEI

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Event Summary

On Wednesday at AEI, Wendy Wang and W. Bradford Wilcox presented their new report, “The millennial success sequence: Marriage, kids, and the ‘success sequence’ among young adults.” This joint report from AEI and the Institute for Family Studies investigates how the sequence of graduating from high school, working full time, and marrying before having children is linked to economic mobility and reduced poverty among millennials.

The Brookings Institution’s Ron Haskins, The Atlantic’s Annie Lowrey, and Public Prep’s Ian Rowe joined AEI’s Robert Doar and Dr. Wilcox to discuss the importance of teaching young adults the benefits of creating stable, married households and having children inside marriage. They mentioned that the decline of various social institutions that influence civic life makes conferring such messages difficult. The panel also agreed that tax policy and federal assistance programs should promote marriage rather than penalize it.

For the second panel, Mr. Doar and Mr. Rowe were joined by two Public Prep students, Kesi Wilson and Daisha Rivas, and the principal of Girls Prep Bronx Middle School, Michael Farkosh, to discuss a millennial perspective on the success sequence. They provided valuable personal insight, highlighting examples of support they received from individuals and institutions in pursuing the success sequence in their own lives.

— Will Kessler and Matthew Deininger

Event Description

Young men and women are taking increasingly divergent paths into adulthood in America. But is it still the case that those who follow the “success sequence” — completing high school, getting a job, getting married, and having children, in that order — are more likely to flourish economically?

Join AEI for a discussion of a new report authored by W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang analyzing how marriage, childbearing, and the “success sequence” are linked to financial well-being and how policymakers, educators, and other civic leaders can promote smart choices among today’s young adults.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:30 AM
Registration and breakfast

9:00 AM
Robert Doar, AEI

9:05 AM
Presentation of report:
Wendy Wang, Institute for Family Studies
W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI; Institute for Family Studies; University of Virginia

9:30 AM
Panel I: Responses from policy experts

Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution
Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic
Ian Rowe, Public Prep Network

W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI; Institute for Family Studies; University of Virginia

10:45 AM
Panel II: Reactions from young Americans

Michael Farkosh, Girls Prep Bronx Middle School
Kesi Wilson, Girls Prep alumna, graduate of Philips Exeter Academy
Daisha Rivas, student at Girls Prep Bronx Middle School

Robert Doar, AEI
Ian Rowe, Public Prep Network

11:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Nicole Noyes at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Robert Doar is the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at AEI, where he studies and evaluates how free enterprise and improved federal policies and programs can reduce poverty and provide opportunities for vulnerable Americans. Before joining AEI, Mr. Doar worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg as commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration, where he administered 12 public assistance programs, including welfare, food assistance, public health insurance, and help for people living with HIV/AIDS. Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Mr. Doar was New York State commissioner of social services, helping make New York a model for the implementation of welfare reform.

Michael Farkosh is the principal of Girls Prep Bronx Middle School. Before joining the founding Girls Prep Bronx Middle School team, he was the humanities chair at Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School, where he gained in-depth knowledge of middle school structures, culture, and instruction. After earning a political science degree from Arizona State University, he taught English at a public high school in Phoenix as part of Teach for America before returning to the East Coast to teach at two New York City public charter schools and then Girls Prep. Mr. Farkosh earned his master’s degree in secondary education in 2008 and holds a New York State certification in secondary English.

Ron Haskins is the Cabot Family Chair of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Formerly, he was a senior adviser for welfare policy to President George W. Bush, a senior staffer for the House Committee on Ways and Means, and a research professor at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Haskins is a developmental psychologist.

Annie Lowrey is a staff writer for The Atlantic, covering economic policy, in particular antipoverty and social-welfare programs. She is writing a book on universal basic incomes for Crown. She previously worked as a reporter for The New York Times, Slate, and New York Magazine.

Ian Rowe is the CEO of Public Prep, where he provides the strategic direction for the network of single-sex elementary and middle public schools that prepare students to earn a degree from a four-year university. Previously, he was the deputy director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he worked to increase college completion rates among low-income young adults. He also worked for MTV as the senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Public Affairs and as the director of strategy and performance measurement at the USA Freedom Corps office. He is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative, a founding board member of the NYC Special Education Collaborative, a current member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee, and a founding board member of Malaria No More.

Wendy Wang is director of research at the Institute for Family Studies. Dr. Wang is a former senior researcher at Pew Research Center, where she conducted research on marriage, gender, work, and family life in the United States. She was the lead author of the Pew Research Center report “Breadwinner moms,” among other Pew reports.

W. Bradford Wilcox is a visiting scholar at AEI, where he directs the Home Economics Project. Inaugurated in the fall of 2013, the research project explores the links between family structure and economic growth in 20 countries around the world — more specifically, how marriage and a strong family life foster free enterprise. Dr. Wilcox is also an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Virginia, where he directs the National Marriage Project. He is a fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and has been a research fellow at Yale University, a research associate at Princeton University, and a Civitas Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

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