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Continuity and Change in the American Family

Continuity and Change in the American Family

  • Lynne M. Casper - University of Southern California, USA, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Bethesda, MD
  • Suzanne M. Bianchi - University of Maryland, USA

December 2001 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Continuity and Change in the American Family engages students with issues they see every day in the news, providing them with a comprehensive description of the social demography of the American family. Understanding ever-changing family systems and patterns requires taking the pulse of contemporary family life from time to time. This book paints a portrait of family continuity and change in the later half of the 20th century, with a focus on data from the 1970's to present. The authors explore such topics as the growth in cohabitation, changes in childbearing, and how these trends affect family life. Other topics include the changing lives of single mothers, fathers, and grandparents and increasing economic disparities among families; child care and child well-being; and combining paid work and family. The authors are talented writers who bring considerable professional and scholarly background to bear in illuminating this topic in a thoughtful yet lively presentation. 

Is the American Family in Decline?

A Note on the Demographic Approach to Studying Families.

Theoretical Frameworks in Family Demography.

A Note on Data and Family Terminology.

Choice of Topics and Organization of this Volume.

1. Changing Families in a Changing Society
A Changing Society.

Changing Households and Families.

Racial Differences in Household and Family Structure.

Delayed Marriage and Living Arrangements of Young Adults.


Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.


Living Arrangements of the Elderly.

Intergenerational Ties and Multigenerational Living.

2. Cohabitation
Who Cohabits and How Has This Changed Over Time?

A Note on Gay & Lesbian Cohabiting-Couple Households.

Cohabitation and Marriage.

Are Cohabiting and Married Individuals Becoming More Alike?

Cohabitation and Single Life.

Different Purposes, Different Cohabitors.

Race and the Meaning of Cohabitation.

Premarital Cohabitation and Risk of Divorce.

M. O'Connell
3. Childbearing
Entering Motherhood: Childbearing Among Cohorts of Women.

Number of Children and Childlessness.

Generational Differences in Childbearing.

Nonmarital Childbearing.

Employment Patterns Before and After Pregnancy.

Birth Expectations.

Fertility in Men's Lives.

4. Single-Mother Families
Who Is a Single Mother?

Trends in Single Motherhood.

Cohabitation and Single-Parenting.

Cohort Change in Lifetime Experience of Single-Mothering.

Changing Socioeconomic Characteristics of Single Mothers.

Variation among Single Mothers.

Single Mothers and Welfare Reform.

5. Fathering
Beliefs about Father Involvement: Ideals & Realities.

Declining Fatherhood: Long-Term Trends in Men's Coresidential "Parenting."

Lifetime Estimates of Parenthood.

Father-Only Families & Cohabitation.

Characteristics of Single and Married Fathers.

Child Custody.

Contact Between Nonresident Fathers & Their Children.

Child Support Among Nonresident Fathers.

Married Fathers' Time and Activities with Children.

Fathers' and Mothers' Views on Father Involvement.

6. Grandparenting
How Has Grandparenthood Changed Over the Years?


Grandparenting and Single-Parenting.

Multigenerational Families with Grandparents.

Heterogeneity in Multigenerational Families with Grandparents.

Characteristics of Grandparents in Multigenerational Families.

The Economic Well-being of Grandparents in Multigenerational Families.

Racial Differences in Multigenerational Families with Grandparents.

The Economic Well-being of Grandchildren in Multigenerational Families.

7. Child Care
Growth in Non-Parental Child Care.

How Do Parents Choose Child Care?

Complexity of Child Care Arrangements.

Child Care and Child Well-Being.

8. Child Well-Being
Changing Numbers of U.S. Children.

A Transformation of Family Life.

Foster Children and Adopted Children.

Children in Gay and Lesbian Families.

Children's Economic Security.

Parents & Children.

How Do Children Spend Their Time?

Children's Health.

Teens, Mortality, and Risky Behaviors.

9. Economic Causes and Consequences of Changing Family Structure
Trends in Household & Per Capita Income.

Poverty Trends.

Racial Differences in Income & Poverty.

"Feminization" of Poverty.

Changing Employment & Earnings of Women.

Declining Male Wages.

The Juvenilization of Poverty.

Family Income Inequality & Relative Economic Well-Being.

Components of Rising Household Income Inequality.

Changing Economics & Family Formation & Dissolution.

Men's Income & Their Attractiveness in the Marriage Market.

Women's Economic Independence, Marriage, & Marital Disruption.

Consequences of Marital Disruption in Families with Children.

The Gender Gap in Income After Marital Disruption.

10. Combining Work and Family
The Increase in Mother's Labor Force Participation.

Attitudes about Women's Work.

Women's & Men's Nonmarket Work.

When Do Men Do More Housework?

Perceived Success at Work-Family Balance.

Dual Earning & Family Well-being.

About the Authors
Key features
  • Authoritative coverage instructors and students can trust: both authors have had long experience working at the Census Bureau with a variety of databases that are difficult to use, giving them a unique perspective into this field; in addition, Bianchi is immediate Past-President of the Population Association of America and has chaired the Population and Family Sections of the American Sociological Association.
  • Includes detailed data describing changes in families and households; concentrating on changes since the 1970s, it contains more recent data than any other book about the family.
  • Covers topics relevant to current policy debates, including cohabitation and marriage, nonmarital fertility and single mothers, father involvement, grandparenting, childcare, work and family, family economic well-being and inequality, and child well-being; thus, the book engages students with issues they see everyday in the news.


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