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Realizing the Dream: What Does the Success Sequence Have to Do with the Economic Welfare of Black and Hispanic Young Adults?

May 26, 2022

Event Transcript

Event Summary

On May 26, a panel of experts discussed a new report published by AEI and the Institute for Family Studies on the effectiveness of the success sequence for minorities and low-income Americans.

AEI’s W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the Institute for Family Studies highlighted new data suggesting that, contrary to critics who claim the success sequence does not work for minorities and disadvantaged Americans, those who follow this sequence are remarkably less likely to experience poverty as adults—across every demographic. Following these presentations, Dr. Wilcox and Dr. Wang previewed a new series of videos aimed at communicating the value of the success sequences to young adults.

A panel discussion with Dr. Wilcox, Catholic University’s Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, AEI’s Ian Rowe, and Blaze Media’s Delano Squires followed. Each panelist underscored the indispensable role of marriage in the success sequence, and they explored approaches to effectively communicate the value of marriage to the rising generation.

—Josh Barker

Event Description

The success sequence—earning at least a high school degree, working full-time, and marrying before childbearing—is a proven path to the American dream. Ninety-seven percent of young adults who follow the sequence avoid poverty by their 30s, and a vast majority enter the middle class and beyond. But some have argued that the success sequence is less effective for African Americans, Hispanics, and young adults from low-income families. Is that true?

A new AEI and Institute for Family Studies report, “The Power of the Success Sequence for Disadvantaged Young Adults,” takes up this question. AEI’s W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the Institute for Family Studies will discuss the paper and spotlight a new video series, “Straight Talk About the Success Sequence.” A panel discussion will follow with Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Ian Rowe, Isabel Sawhill, and Delano Squires.


5:00 p.m.
Welcome and Introduction:
W. Bradford Wilcox, Nonresident Senior Fellow, AEI

5:05 p.m.
Presentations and Video Screening:
Wendy Wang, Director of Research, Institute for Family Studies
W. Bradford Wilcox, Nonresident Senior Fellow, AEI

5:40 p.m.
Panel Discussion

Ian Rowe, Senior Fellow, AEI
Isabel V. Sawhill, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Delano Squires, Contributor, Blaze Media

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Director of Social Research, Bush School of Business, Catholic University of America

6:05 p.m.

6:15 p.m.

About the Author

W. Bradford Wilcox