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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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A Century of the American Family

A Century of the American Family

Chapter:
(p.56) (p.57) 3 A Century of the American Family
Source:
Cross Currents
Author(s):

Donna Ruane Morrison

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.003.0003

The present state of the American family is commonly interpreted as a ‘sign of the times’, a by-product of contemporary values and culture and the economic forces that shape modern life. Taking a longer view, however, reveals that many aspects of current family demography reflect patterns that have been under way since the beginning of the twentieth century, while others are newer developments. This chapter highlights the major demographic trends that have shaped family life in the United States since 1900. Some trends such as lower fertility, increases in age at marriage, and elevated divorce levels took root early on in the century, making patterns in family life ripe for change. Other developments, such as the large-scale participation of mothers with young children in the labor force, the prevalence of cohabitation, and sharp increases in out-of-wedlock childbearing, have only recently gained momentum. What is most noteworthy is that these trends have combined into a retreat from marriage in American society and the separation of childbearing from marriage.

Keywords:   United States, American family, family demography, family life, fertility, marriage, cohabitation, childbearing

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