Marcia (Marcy) J. Carlson

Position title: Associate Dean, Graduate School; Sewell-Bascom Professor of Sociology


Phone: (608) 262-1085

4446 Sewell Social Science

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Research Interest Statement:

Carlson’s primary research interests center on the associations between family contexts and the wellbeing of parents and children. She has explored the changing composition of families and aspects of their functioning. Her early work explored how family structure was associated with child and adolescent being, identifying fathers’ involvement with children as a key mechanism by which family structure affects offspring. Much of her recent work is focused on growing family diversity and complexity, particularly with respect to fertility patterns and fatherhood, as well as how family change is linked with inequality in both the U.S. and cross-national contexts.


Ph.D., University of Michigan,1999

Departmental Areas of Interest:

Social Stratification, Demography and Ecology, Family


Soc 120 Marriage and Family (Honors)
Soc 120 Marriage and Family
Soc 496 Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy
Soc 640 Sociology of the Family
Soc 971 Demography of Fertility, Families, and Households

Other Campus Affiliations:

Center for Demography and Ecology
Institute for Research on Poverty
La Follette School of Public Affairs

Selected Publications:

Fomby, Paula, Ariane Ophir and Marcia J. Carlson. Forthcoming. “Family Complexity and Children’s Behavior Problems over Two U.S. Cohorts.” Journal of Marriage and Family.

Berger, Lawrence M. and Marcia J. Carlson. 2020. “Family Policy and Complex Contemporary Families: A Decade in Review and Implications for the Next Decade of Research and Policy Practice.” Journal of Marriage and Family 82(1):478-507.

Ellerbe, Calvina, Jerrett Jones, and  Marcia Carlson. 2018. “Race/Ethnic Differences in Nonresident Fathers’ Involvement after a Nonmarital Birth.” Social Science Quarterly 99(3): 1158-82. NIHMS ID 938006.

Carlson, Marcia, Alicia VanOrman, and Kimberly Turner. 2017. “Fathers’ Investments of Money and Time across Residential Contexts.” Journal of Marriage and Family 79, no. 1 (2017): 10-23. PubMed Central ID 5909825.

Carlson, Marcia, and Alicia VanOrman. “Trajectories of Relationship Supportiveness after Childbirth: Does Marriage Matter?” Social Science Research 66:102-17. PubMed Central ID 5512449.

Raymo, James, Marcia Carlson, Alicia VanOrman, So-jung Lim, Brienna Perelli-Harris, and Miho Iwasawa. 2015. “Educational Differences in Early Childbearing: A Cross-National Comparative Study.” Demographic Research 33: 65-92. PubMed Central ID 6075669.

Goldberg, Julia, and Marcia Carlson. 2015. “Patterns and Predictors of Coparenting after Unmarried Parents Part.” Journal of Family Psychology 29(3): 416-26. PubMed Central ID 6057872

Thomson, Elizabeth, Trude Lappegard, Marcia Carlson, Ann Evans, and Edith Gray. 2014. “Childbearing across Partnerships in Australia, the United States, Norway, and Sweden.” Demography 51(2): 485-508. PubMed Central ID 5513161.

Goldberg, Julia, and Marcia Carlson. 2014. “Parents’ Relationship Quality and Children’s Behavior in Stable Married and Cohabiting Families.” Journal of Marriage and Family 76(4): 762-77. PubMed Central ID 4128411.