Fertility, Families, and Households Soc 971
Overview—general trends, paradigms, theories Week 2
Trends and Differentials
Trends: More than half of first marriages (and more among remarriages) are preceded by cohabitation. The years 1978 through 1998 showed a fivefold increase in cohabitation; the rate of increase is currently declining. Nearly 40% of cohabiting couples have children.
(Scholars: Bumpass, Cohan, Manning, Smock)
Differentials: Black and white cohabitors differ in the probability of eventually marrying: blacks are half as likely as are whites to marry their cohabiting partner. Although cohabiting blacks and whites are equally likely to report marriage expectations, blacks are significantly less likely to realize them.
(Scholars: Susan Brown, Manning, Smock)
Trends: ~90% of Americans will eventually marry. People are delaying marriage (median age at first marriage is rising). The proportion of Americans never marrying and the proportion not remarrying after marital dissolution are also increasing.
(Scholars: Blau, Raley)
Differentials: Black women are more likely to never marry than are white women. College educated women are more likely to marry than are women with less than a college education. Growing wage inequality has made men and women in the bottom SES strata less “marriageable.”
(Scholars: Lichter, Oppenheimer, Raley, Teachman)
Trends: The divorce rate rose steadily across the 20th century (except for the post WWII period) and peaked around 1980 at ~50% of first marriages (higher among higher order marriages). Over the 20th century divorce has replace death as the primary cause of the dissolution of marriages. The majority of divorcees remarry.
(Scholars: Amato, Booth, Bumpass, Cherlin, Coleman, Furstenberg, Hetherington, Waite)
Differentials: Until a certain age (~35), the older a person is at first marriage, the less likely the marriage is to end in divorce. Completing college is associated with lower divorce rates than is lower educational attainment. Divorced men are more likely to remarry than divorced women are. Blacks are more likely to divorce than whites and less likely to remarry after divorce.
Trends: Compared to the Baby Boom (1946-1964), people have fewer children, have children later in life, and are more likely to be unmarried when children are born. However, about 25% of nonmarital births are to cohabiting couples and thus constitute two-parent unmarried families. Fertility is around replacement level. More couples are electing to have no children. Popenoe also notes attitudinal changes, such as a remarkable decrease in the stigma associated with childlessness.
(Scholars: Bongaarts, Lesthaeghe)
Differentials: Black and Hispanic women are far more likely than white women to have children while unmarried. Women with lower levels of education have children younger than women with higher levels of education do. In addition, the increase in single motherhood has been particularly pronounced among less-educated women.
(Scholars: McLanahan, Steve Martin)
Trends: From 1960 to 1998, percentage of family households with two parents and child(ren) under 18 years old decreased from 91% to 73% (88% of these households are both biological parents). Family composition has been quite stable since 1994. The proportion of single father households, while still very small, is increasing. Men, particularly college educated, married men, are becoming more involved fathers. About 50% of children live in a single parent household at some point before age 18, and it is not simply a transitional phase between first and second families: the majority will remain in a mother-only family for the rest of their childhood. The proportion of mothers, especially mothers of very young children, who work in the paid labor force has increased.
Differentials: Single mother households are more common among black and Hispanic women than among white women, and more common among women with low educational attainment than among women with high educational attainment. Mothers with high educational attainment are more likely to work in the paid labor force than are mothers with lower educational attainment. McLanahan argues that the demographic changes associated with increased children’s resources (maternal employment and paternal involvement) are happening the fastest among children in the top SES strata, whereas changes associated with decreases in resourced (single motherhood and divorce) are happening the fastest in the bottom strata.
(Scholars: Aquilino, Cherlin, McLanahan)
Trends: Grown children are more likely to return home after having left than in the past. Older adults more likely to live alone; less likely to live with kin than in the past. Older parents are less likely to see their adult children on a regular basis.
(Scholars: Aquilino, Goldscheider)
Differentials: The sick and the poor elderly are more likely than other older people to live with others. Women are more likely to live alone than men are, largely because they are more likely to be widowed than men (given that women tend to marry men older than themselves, men tend to die at younger ages than women do, and widowers are more likely to remarry than widows are). More black and Hispanic older people than white older people live with kin. Geographic proximity makes a difference—elders who live near kin are more likely to move in with them than are elders who live far from kin.
(Scholars: Dannefer, Hagestad, Szinovacz, Uhlenberg)