This article considers associations among childhood family structure, childhood religious service attendance, and the probability of having a nonmarital first birth before age 30 for non-Hispanic White women born 1944 to 1964 using data from the 1988 and 1995 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) (N = 5995). We found that attending religious services weekly during childhood and growing up in a two-biological parent family were associated with lower odds of having had a nonmarital first birth. These associations were quite stable across cohorts, although religious attendance was less associated with nonmarital fertility for the youngest cohort. We estimate that changes in these childhood experiences account for 22% of the increase in nonmarital first births across these cohorts.
From 1975 to 2005, the variance in incomes of American families with children
increased by two-thirds. In attempting to explain this trend, labor market studies
emphasize the rising pay of college graduates, while demographers typically highlight
the implications of family structural changes across time. In this article, we join these
lines of research by conceiving of income inequality as the joint product of the
distribution of earnings in the labor market and the pooling of incomes in families. We
develop this framework with a decomposition of family income inequality using annual
data from the March Current Population Survey. Our analysis shows that disparities in
education and single parenthood contributed to income inequality, but rising
educational attainment and women’s employment offset these effects. Most of the
increase in family income inequality was due to increasing within-group inequality,
which was widely shared across family types and levels of schooling.
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.
This article considers how becoming a father affects men’s employment
levels and tests whether the effects of fatherhood differ by the relationship
of the father to the child’s mother at the time of the birth. We use
data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to fit growth
curve models of new fathers’ employment trajectories for the first five years
after they become fathers. Prior to becoming a father, married men
worked more hours per week and more weeks per year than cohabiting and
nonresident fathers. By five years after the birth, differences in employment
between unmarried and married fathers had diminished. The transition
to fatherhood is associated with an increase in employment for unmarried
fathers but is not associated with significant changes in employment for married
Over the past 50 years, women’s roles have changed dramatically—a reality captured by substantial increases in employment and reductions in fertility. Yet, the social organization of work and family life has not changed much, leading to pervasive work–family conflict. Observing these strains, some scholars wonder whether U.S. women’s high employment levels are sustainable. Women’s employment in professional and managerial occupations—the core of the analyses offered in this article—merits particular interest because of the material and symbolic implications for gender equality. In a cohort analysis of working-age women born between 1906 and 1975, I show that employment levels among college-educated women in professional and managerial occupations have increased across cohorts. Full-time, year-round employment rates continue to rise across cohorts, even among women in historically male professions and mothers of young children. Although labor force participation rates have stopped rising, they have stalled at a very high rate, with less than 8 percent of professional women born since 1956 out of the labor force for a year or more during their prime childbearing years. Moreover, the difference in employment rates between mothers and childless women—the “child penalty”—is shrinking across cohorts.