. When Mothers Can’t "Pay the Cost to Be the Boss": Roles and Identity within Doubled-up Households
. Social Problems. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Although the independent nuclear family remains the ideal family form in most Americans’ minds, rising housing costs have made residential independence increasingly difficult. Sharing a home provdes a common safety net for lower-income mothers, yet we know little about how mothers experience and interpret this household form. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with 52 mothers, I find that doubling up as a guest in someone else’s home – though not hosting someone else in their home – threatens mothers’ identities as adults and good parents. Mothers describe doubling up in someone else’s home as incompatible with their ideals of adulthood and family life, which are organized around the independent nuclear family. While mothers expect to control their daily lives and childrearing, householders retain authority over the home and its inhabitants, and there is no taken-for-granted way of reconciling household members’ conflicting expectations. In response to the stress on their identities, mothers who live doubled-up in someone else’s home often seek to establish themselves as head of their nuclear family, even when they are not the household head, by engaging in identity work: defining physical space as their own, emphasizing their contributions to the household, and asserting their status as parents.
. Cumulative Effects of Doubling Up in Childhood
. Demography. 2020;57 :501–528. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Living in a doubled-up, or shared, household is a common experience. Nearly one-half of children in the United States double up at some point during childhood, yet we know little about the cumulative effects of these households on children. This study estimates the effects on young adult health and educational attainment of childhood years spent in three doubled-up household types: (1) those formed with children’s grandparent(s), (2) those formed with children’s adult sibling(s), and (3) those formed with other extended family or non-kin adults. Using marginal structural models and inverse probability of treatment weighting—methods that account for the fact that household composition is both a cause and consequence of other family characteristics—I find that doubling up shapes children’s life chances, but the effects vary depending on children’s relationships with household members. Childhood years spent living with nongrandparent extended family or non-kin adults are associated with worse young adult outcomes, but coresidence with grandparents is not significantly associated with young adult outcomes after selection into these households is accounted for, and coresidence with adult siblings may be beneficial in some domains. By studying the effects of coresidence with adults beyond the nuclear family, this research contributes to a fuller understanding of the implications of family complexity for children.
Darrah-Okike J, Harvey H, Fong K
. “Because the World Consists of Everybody”: Understanding Parents’ Preferences for Neighborhood Diversity
. City & Community. 2020;19 (2) :374-397. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Previous research, primarily using survey data, highlights preferences about neighborhood racial composition as a potential contributor to residential segregation. However, we know little about how individuals, especially parents, understand neighborhood racial composition. We examine this question using in‐depth interview data from a racially diverse sample of 156 parents of young children in two metropolitan areas. Prior scholarship on neighborhood racial preferences has mostly been animated by expectations about in‐group attraction, out‐group avoidance, the influence of stereotypes, and perceived associations between race and status. However, we find that a substantial subset of parents expressed a desire for racially and ethnically mixed neighborhoods—a residential preference at odds with racial segregation. Parents across race conceptualized neighborhood diversity as beneficial for children's development. They expressed shared logics, reasoning that neighborhood diversity cultivates skills and comfort interacting with racial others; teaches tolerance; and provides cultural enrichment. However, these ideas intersected with racial segregation and stratification to shape parents’ understandings of diversity and hinder the realization of parents’ aspirations. Beliefs about the benefits of neighborhood diversity were rarely a primary motivation for residential choices. Nonetheless, parents’ perceptions of the advantages of neighborhood racial mixing reveal the reach of discourse on the value of diversity and suggest a potential opportunity to advance residential desegregation.
Harvey H, Fong K, Edin K, DeLuca S
. Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: Housing Search Logics and Residential Selection
. Social Forces. 2020;98 (4) :1498–1523. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Residential selection is central in determining children’s housing, neighborhood, and school contexts, and an extensive literature considers the social processes that shape residential searches and attainment. While this literature typically frames the residential search as a uniform process oriented around finding residential options with desired characteristics, we examine whether individuals may differentially conceive of these searches in ways that sustain inequality in residential attainment. Drawing on repeated, in-depth interviews with a stratified random sample of 156 households with young children in two metropolitan counties, we find that parents exhibit distinct residential search logics, informed by the constraints they face. Higher-income families usually engage in purposive searches oriented around their residential preferences. They search for “forever homes” that will meet their families’ needs for years to come. In contrast, low-income parents typically draw on a logic of deferral. While they hope to eventually search for a home with the unit, neighborhood, and school characteristics they desire, aspirations for homeownership lead them to conceive of their moves (which are often between rental units) as “temporary stops,” which justifies accepting homes that are inconsistent with their long-term preferences. In addition, because they are often “pushed” to move by negative circumstances, they focus on their immediate housing needs and, in the most extreme cases, adopt an “anywhere but here” approach. These logics constitute an unexamined mechanism through which economic resources shape residential searches and ultimate attainment.