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Family Trend

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Family Trend
Early 1900s
Single: only 12% women, 15% men for religious, financial reasons
Divorce: 3 per 10,000 marr iages
Single parenthood, step-marr iage: due to the death of spouse
Extramarital children: 0.5%
Mar r iage rate: peak in 1940s, drop in 1960s (revolution, gender issues), another peak in
1970s (baby boom after WW2) and decline later
Common-law rate: usually for poor people in the past, but things have changed after
1960s (most common for 20s, but increased in all age groups)
Cohabitation - four stages
Stage1: fringe or avant garde phenomenon
Stage2: testing ground for mar r iage
Stage3: alternative to mar r iage
Stage4: indistinguishable from mar r iage
Divorce: significant increase after Divorce Act in 1968
36% of mar r iage ends within 30 years
Median duration: 12.9 years (1989) -> 13.7 years (1998) why longer = they cohabited
first or less likely to get marr ied
Lone parents: widowed rate decreased, divorce rate increased, never mar r ied rate
Remar r iage rate: significant increase after 1970s
**Deinstitutionalization of American mar r iage
Weakening power of the social nor ms and laws as defining partner’s behavior and
regulating mechanisms for family life
Expanding role of personal choice
Individuals no longer rely on shared understandings of how to act
Rather, they must negotiate new ways of acting (= potential source of both conf lict and
oppor tunity)
Transitions in the meaning of mar r iage
Pre-transition (1850s-1960s): era of mandatory mar r iage
Only mar r iage was the ticket to have a full family life
Almost no cohabitation except for poor or avant garde
First transition: institutional -> companionate marr iage
Single earner, breadwinner-homemaker mar r iage
Supposed to be each other’s companions- friends, lovers
Increasing focus on bonds of sentiment within nuclear families
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