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More than one-quarter of these unwed mothers are living with a partner who may or may not be their child’s biological father.
The rise of the cohabiting couple is another striking feature of the evolving American family: From 1996 to 2012, the number jumped almost 170 percent, to 7.8 million from 2.9 million.
“It’s a mistake to think this is the endpoint of enormous change.
We are still very much in the midst of it.” Yet for all the restless shape-shifting of the American family, researchers who comb through census, survey and historical data and conduct field studies of ordinary home life have identified a number of key emerging themes.
Also démodé is the old debate over whether mothers of dependent children should work outside the home.
The facts have voted, the issue is settled, and Paycheck Mommy is now a central organizing principle of the modern American family.
In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows.
Good friends join forces as part of the “voluntary kin” movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.
The trend is not demographically uniform, instead tracking the nation’s widening gap in income and opportunity.“We’re seeing a class divide not only between the haves and the have-nots, but between the I do’s and the I do nots,” Dr. Those who are enjoying the perks of a good marriage “wouldn’t stand for any other kind,” she said, while those who would benefit most from marital stability “are the ones least likely to have the resources to sustain it.” Yet across the divide runs a white picket fence, our unshakable star-spangled belief in the value of marriage and family. “It means everything,” said Linda Mc Adam, 28, who is in human resources on Long Island. “It’s almost like a weight,” said Rob Fee, 26, a financial analyst in San Francisco, “a heavy weight.” Or as the comedian George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” In charting the differences between today’s families and those of the past, demographers start with the kids — or rather the lack of them.We marry, divorce and remarry at rates not seen anywhere else in the developed world. The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960, and last year hit its lowest point ever.The share of mothers employed full or part time has quadrupled since the 1950s and today accounts for nearly three-quarters of women with children at home.The number of women who are their families’ sole or primary breadwinner also has soared, to 40 percent today from 11 percent in 1960.
“Yes, I wear the pants in the family,” said Ana Perez, 35, a mother of three and a vice president at a financial services company in New York, who was, indeed, wearing pants.