SOC 344 PERSPECTIVES F 08

SOC 344 PERSPECTIVES F 08 - PERSPECTIVES ON THE FAMILY...

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PERSPECTIVES ON THE FAMILY
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Americans place a high value on marriage and family . The family as the most important aspect of life, above health, work, money, and even religion. One national survey found that "almost 8 out of 10 married Americans said they would give their marriage an A grade.” Despite these upbeat views, a number of writers worry that the family is falling apart . It is becoming a "vanishing" family” as a result of "troubled" marriages, and "appalling" divorce statistics. Many claim that our most urgent social problem is the disappearance of many fathers because of divorce or unmarried relationships that break up . Others contend that we have a "marriage problem" because marriage is now a convenient promise that is easily made and just as easily broken.
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Singles and Cohabitants Singles make up one of the fastest-growing groups . The decrease in household size has resulted in part from fewer children per family, more one-parent families, and greater age segregation, that is, the tendency of young and old people to live separately. The number of cohabitants has climbed since 1970 and is expected to grow because societal acceptance of living together is increasing, and many young adults are postponing marriage. The percentage of people living alone has grown considerably since 1970. For baby-boom women in particular, more divorces, increased longevity, and shaky retirement incomes could mean that fewer midlife and older women will have the option of living alone even if this is their preference.
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Marriage–Divorce–Remarriage The number of divorces has increased over the years . Even though divorce rates have reached a plateau and decreased since 2000, one out of every two first marriages is expected to end in divorce. Teen marriages and marriages entered into because the woman became pregnant are especially likely to unravel. Stepfamilies are becoming much more common . About 17 percent of all children live in a stepfamily. Whether or not a couple has children seems to have little effect on divorce or remarriage.
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One-Parent Families As more adults remain single into their 30s and as divorce rates increase, the number of children living with one parent also increases . The number of one-parent families has almost tripled, from 9 percent in 1960 to nearly 32 percent in 2000. The proportion of children living with a never-married parent has also increased , from 4 percent in 1960 to 42 percent in 2000. Of all one-parent families, 83 percent are mother–child families. The percentage of children under age 18 living in one-parent families has more than doubled during this same period. Part of the increase in one-parent families is due to the surge of births to unmarried women.
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Employed Mothers The increased participation of mothers in the labor force has been one of the most important changes in family roles. Two-earner couples with children under age 18 rose from 31 percent in 1976 to 70 percent in 2001. About 55 percent of all mothers with children
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This note was uploaded on 01/29/2011 for the course SOC 344 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Michigan.

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SOC 344 PERSPECTIVES F 08 - PERSPECTIVES ON THE FAMILY...

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