Over the past four decades, income inequality has increased and family
structures have diversified.We argue that family structure has become
an important mechanism for the reproduction of class, race, and gender
inequalities. We review studies of income inequality and family structure
changes and find a wide range of estimates of the correlation.We
discuss how increases in income inequality may lead to increases in
single motherhood, particularly among less educated women. Single
motherhood in turn decreases intergenerational economic mobility by
affecting children’s material resources and the parenting they experience.
Because of the unequal distribution of family structure by race
and the negative effects of single motherhood, family structure changes
exacerbate racial inequalities. Gender inequalities also increase as mothers
incur more child-related costs and fewer fathers experience family
life with children.