Area of Concern

Civic Futures

Institute for the Future and Family Story—an organization that works to advance equity for all types of families—released the joint report on the future of family in the United States. Families in Flux: Imagining the Next Generation of the American Family, looks ahead to family life in 2040, applying a framework designed to identify elements that define the family and explore the changes within each of the four alternative scenarios depicting what the family might look like a generation from now.

This report is more relevant than ever, as the current moment of social, political, and economic upheaval has made certain future scenarios even more plausible. The moment is ripe with possibility for transforming and reinventing a better future for families, by anticipating which forms of family might be accepted, stigmatized, vulnerable to oppression, or privileged. This report can help us to anticipate the needs that new forms of family may have, and how best to distribute resources to meet them.

Part 1: The Changing Facets of the American Family

Households in an era of economic transformation
Partnership in an era of digital society
Reproduction in an era of biological intervention
Parenting in an era of institutional reinvention
Roles in an era of fluid identities
Obligation in an era of continued unequal opportunity
Legality in an era of political divergence
Ancestry in an era of DNA discovery

Part 2: Stories of Future Families

Acceleration | A world of family-driven growth
Constriction | A world of marginalized innovation
Intervention | A world of social safety nets
Revolution | A world of cultural reinvention

Future of Families with Ben Hamamoto

Self-driving cars, augmented reality, AI—when you ask people what the future will look like, there are a set of technological changes we all know are on the horizon. But when it comes to social change, we have less shared visions. IFTF Vantage Research Director Ben Hamamoto and Family Story Project Executive Director Nicole Rodgers talk about our recent, jointly-released report, Families in Flux: Imagining the Next Generation of the American Family. We discuss how one of our core social institutions, the family, could change profoundly in the coming decades, describe what that change could look like, and pull out implications for what that means for other institutions and organizations.

About Family Story
Family Story works to address and dismantle family privilege in America. We conduct cutting-edge research to expose the ways family privilege causes harm and create cultural and political strategies to advance equity for all types of families. We believe everyone has a unique journey and that all adults and families deserve support and respect.

About Institute for the Future
Institute for the Future is the world’s leading futures thinking organization. For over 50 years, businesses, governments, and social impact organizations have depended upon IFTF global forecasts, custom research, and foresight training to navigate complex change and develop world-ready strategies. IFTF methodologies and toolsets yield coherent views of transformative possibilities across all sectors that together support a more equitable and sustainable future. Institute for the Future is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.


  • Authors: Cindy Baskin, Eri Gentry, Georgia Gillan, Ben Hamamoto, Jan English-Lueck, Terry Maher, Vanessa Mason, Nicole Rodgers, Kathi Vian
  • Peer review: Marina Gorbis, Katherine Haynes Sanstad, Angelo Williams
  • Scenario generation: Madeline Ashby, Lonny Avi Brooks, Jamais Cascio, Vanessa Mason
  • Additional research: Jamais Cascio, Jake Dunagan, Rod Falcon, Ayca Guralp, Rachel Maguire
  • Experts consulted: Lonny Avi Brooks, Anmol Chaddha, Jan English-Lueck, Joshua Gamson, Eri Gentry, Louis Hyman, David Jay, Lyn Jeffery, Lydia Laurenson, Jeremy Liu, Anne Price, Nicole Rodgers, Leslie Root, E. Kay Trimberger, Jess Wen, Angelo Williams
  • Editorial: Mark Frauenfelder, Carla Sinclair
  • Production: Robin Bogott, Trent Kuhn, Robin Weiss

©2020 Institute for the Future. All rights reserved. All brands and trademarks remain the property of their respective owners. SR-2113


For more information on this report, contact [email protected].

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