Sara McLanahan

William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs. Co-Director, Center for Research on Child Well-Being (CRCW)

265 Wallace Hall
Tracy Merone
External Website:


  • family demography; poverty and inequality; social policy; child wellbeing; gender issues; race and ethnicity; and intergenerational relationships


Sara McLanahan is the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She is the co-director and founding director of the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (CRCW) . She is a principal investigator of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and Editor-in-Chief of the Future of Children, a journal dedicated to providing research and analysis to promote effective policies and programs for children.

She is the author of over 180 articles and 7 books including Children of the Great Recession (2016); Fathers Under Fire: The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement (1998); Social Policies for Children (1996); Growing up with a Single Parent (1994); Child Support and Child Wellbeing (1994); Child Support Assurance: Design Issues, Expected Impacts, and Political Barriers, as Seen from Wisconsin (1992); and Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma (1986). She received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Sociological Association Family Section in 2004.

Dr. McLanahan currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Russell Sage Foundation. She is a Past-President of the Population Association of America and has served on the Boards of the American Sociological Association and the Pupulation Association of America. She also served on the Institute of Medicine Board on Children, Youth, and Families. McLanahan was elected to the American Academy of Political Science in 2005, the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, the American Philosophical Society in 2016, and the Amercian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019.

Dr. McLanahan earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. She received an honorary degree from Northwestern University in 2016.

Visit Sara McLanahan's personal web site.