Is Fertility the Unspoken Issue in the Debate Between Liberal and Conservative Family Values?

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In two recent books, Linda McClain, The Place of Families: Fostering Capacity, Equality, and Responsibility (2006), and James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families (2002), lay out the respective positions in the opposing family values that divide the United States. Wilson maintains that family well-being rests on the foundation of a strong cultural commitment to marriage, while McClain articulates liberal feminist values that require equality within and among families. This article maintains that delayed childbearing, not marriage or equality, holds the key to the new middle-class morality and discusses the prospects for family law pragmatism in an era of values polarization.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Missouri City—Kansas City

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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