Bennett, Neil G.

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Male. Education: Brown University, B.S. (applied mathematics), 1976; Princeton University, M.A. (sociology), 1980, Ph.D. (sociology), 1981.


Office—Baruch College/CUNY School of Public Affairs, 17 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10010 E-mail—[email protected].


East-West Center, Honolulu, HI, research consultant, 1976-77; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, assistant professor of sociology, 1981-83; Yale University, New Haven, CT, associate professor, 1988-95, assistant professor of sociology, 1988-95, director of graduate studies, 1985, 1987, 1991-94; Baruch College, New York, NY, professor of public affairs, 1999—; City University of New York, professor of sociology, 2000—. Research associate in aging and health care program, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1987-94. Member of board of directors, Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, 1985-91, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 1987-92; National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia College, NY, director and consultant. Member of Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1988-94.


American Sociological Association.


Pre-doctoral fellowship, National Institutes of Health, 1977-80; Mellon fellowship, University of Michigan, 1981-83; Social Science Faculty Research awards, 1984 and 1986, and Junior Faculty fellowship, 1985-86, all from Yale University; grant-in-aid, Rockefeller Foundation, 1987-89; scholar-in-residence, Russell Sage Foundation, 1990-91; grant-in-aid, United Nations Development Program, 1994-96, Smith-Richardson Foundation, 1995-98, Mott Foundation, 1996, and National Science Foundation, 2003-06.


(Editor) Sex Selection of Children, Academic Press (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Martha Shirk and J. Lawrence Aber) Lives on the Line: American Families and the Struggle to Make Ends Meet, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1999.

(With Dalton Conley and Kate W. Strully) The Starting Gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2003.

Contributor to books, including Population and Marketing Settlements in Ch'ing China, by Gilbert Rozman, Cambridge University Press, 1982; Sex Selection of Children, Academic Press, 1983; Population Demography, edited by Donald J. Bogue, Eduardo E. Arriaga, and Douglas L. Anderton, United Nations Population Fund, 1992; and The Changing American Family: Sociological and Demographic Perspectives, edited by Scott South and Stewart Tolnay, Westview, 1992. Also contributor to professional journals, including Contexts, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Biology, American Sociological Review, World Development, Annual Review of Public Health, Population and Development Review, Demography, Population Studies, Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Journal of Sociology, and Gerontologist. Reviewer for foundations, publishers, and journals.


Sociologist and demographer Neil G. Bennett has focused on the study of family dynamics and the complex ways in which parental decisions affect not only their own offspring but society at large. In his first book, Sex Selection of Children, Bennett edited a collection of essays that provides an eye-opening look at the history and impact of sex selection, from the use of yoga and diets to modern methods of amniocentesis and abortion of children of the "wrong" gender. "'Never before has such a comprehensive and multifaceted view of sex selection been presented in one volume,' says the preface, and rightly. Sex Selection of Children will capture an important place in sociology, biology, demography, science, ethics, and social policy," wrote Social Forces reviewer Prafulla Bebarta. Articles cover such topics as the effect of the menstrual cycle on sex selection, the impact of new technologies, and the differences across cultures and borders. Ethical and moral issues are also explored. Bebarta's only regret was that "the scientific sophistication of many of the articles … may deny this volume the public it deserves."

In Lives on the Line: American Families and the Struggle to Make Ends Meet Bennett and his coauthors explore a somewhat narrower topic, but one with wide-ranging implications for American society. The authors focus on ten families of white, black, Hispanic, and Samoan backgrounds, who are trying to make ends meet in the wake of welfare reform. For America reviewer George M. Anderson, it is "a powerful account of what low-income Americans endure in their struggle to raise children in surroundings of poverty." While observing the different impacts of race and locality on these families, the authors discovered a common pattern, a "Bermuda Triangle of family poverty" that afflicts all these families, comprised of teen parenthood, lack of educational achievement, and low-skill, often temporary jobs. At the same time, Bennett "shatters many commonly held stereotypes by analyzing Census Bureau data to show which American children are most likely to be poor," noted an Adolescence contributor. For instance, he finds that most poor children are living in rural or suburban areas, rather than the inner city, and that most have at least one employed parent, rather than just a single mom on welfare.

Bennett and his coauthors find that poverty is growing faster in the suburbs than the cities, and is increasing more among whites rather than blacks. In addition to these long-term trends, the authors explore the impact of recent welfare reforms on families struggling to escape poverty's Bermuda Triangle. They find a Catch-22 that cuts off benefits whenever incomes rise too high, often leaving new members of the work force worse off than they were on welfare. These case studies "comprise a compelling and compassionate view of survival after welfare reform," concluded Library Journal reviewer Paula Dempsey.



Adolescence, spring, 2001, review of Lives on the Line: American Families and the Struggle to Make Ends Meet, p. 179.

America, February 26, 2000, George M. Anderson, review of Lives on the Line, p. 28.

Library Journal, October 1, 1999, Paula Dempsey, review of Lives on the Line, p. 120.

Social Forces, September, 1986, Prafulla Bebarta, review of Sex Selection of Children, p. 265.*

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