Chapter

Historical Roots of Family Diversity

Lawrence L. Wu and Jui-Chung Allen Li

in On the Frontier of Adulthood

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780226748894
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226748924 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226748924.003.0004
Historical Roots of Family Diversity

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Conventional wisdom holds that because women early in the twentieth century had relatively fewer life options, their pathways through marriage and childbearing were simpler than those for women born later in the twentieth century. Diversity in women's family lives, thus, should have increased dramatically over time, with much of what we regard as new, diverse, and “non-traditional” in patterns of marriage and childbearing emerging only recently. By analyzing the marital and childbearing behaviors of women in the United States born between 1914 and 1970, this chapter shows that diversity in women's patterns of marriage and childbearing is not confined to recent generations and that family diversity has not increased over time. To describe trajectories of marriage and childbearing, the chapter uses retrospective data on the marital and fertility experiences of U.S. women available in the June 1980, 1985, 1990, and 1995 Current Population Surveys.

Keywords: women; United States; marriage; childbearing; family diversity; fertility; Current Population Surveys

Chapter.  14648 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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