Sara McLanahan

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Sarah McLanahan
McLanahan delivering a lecture
McLanahan delivering a lecture
Sara Frances Smith

(1940-12-27)27 December 1940
Died31 December 2021(2021-12-31) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
AwardsAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow of 2019
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Houston, University of Texas
Academic work
InstitutionsPrinceton University, University of Wisconsin
Main interestsmotherhood, marriage, divorce, family structure, children, social stratification

Sara McLanahan (born Smith; 27 December 1940 – 31 December 2021) was an American sociologist.[1] She is known for her work on the family as a major institution in the American stratification system. Her early work examined the consequences of divorce and remarriage for parents and children, and her later work focused on families formed by unmarried parents. She was interested in the effects of family structure on social inequality and the roles that public policies can play in addressing the needs of families and children.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sara Frances Smith was born on 27 December 1940 in Tyler, Texas.[3] After graduating from Bennet Junior College in 1959 with highest honors, McLanahan attended Smith College from 1961 to 1962.[4] She married Ellery McLanahan in 1962. [3]They divorced in 1972.[3]

She continued her education at the University of Houston where she received an undergraduate degree in sociology. She went on to earn her PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin while a single parent to her children.[4] McLanahan then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the department of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin[4]


McLanahan was the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.[5] She previously taught at the University of Wisconsin.[6]

At Princeton, McLanahan was the founding director of the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, a principal investigator of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, director of the Education Research Section, and director of the Joint Degree Program in Social Policy.[7]

McLanahan was editor-in-chief of the journal The Future of Children[8] and a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation.[9] She served as president of the Population Association of America in 2004,[10] was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2005,[11] and, in 2011, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[2] She was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2016.[12]

McLanahan published more than 125 research articles, 59 book chapters, and 7 books and edited volumes.[4] More than 915 articles have been published which rely on data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which she co-founded.[4]

McLanahan died of lung cancer on 31 December 2021 at her residence in Manhattan, New York.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

She was elected as an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow in 2019.[13]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ "Sara McLanahan". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  2. ^ a b "Sara McLanahan". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  3. ^ a b c d Williams, Annabelle (2022-01-19). "Sara McLanahan, Who Studied Single Motherhood, Dies at 81". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sara McLanahan | December 27, 1940 – December 31, 2021". Department of Sociology.
  5. ^ "Sara McLanahan". Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  6. ^ Curriculum Vitae ,Sara McLanahan, Princeton University, 2011.
  7. ^ "Sara S. McLanahan – Home". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  8. ^ "People | The Future of Children". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  9. ^ "Who We Are". russell sage foundation. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  10. ^ "Past Presidents". Population Association of America. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  11. ^ "Sara McLanahan". The American Academy of Political and Social Science. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  12. ^ "Newly Elected – April 2016". American Philosophical Society. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13.
  13. ^ "2019 Fellows and International Honorary Members with their affiliations at the time of election". Archived from the original on 2020-03-02.

External links[edit]