This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Changing American Family

The NY Times has a special online issue of Science Times in which writer Natalie Angier discusses the diversity of American families and households. I could scarcely ask for a better set of "further readings" for my discussion in Chapter 10 on the family and household transition, and in Chapter 12 on the Family and Household evolution. She lays out the many dimensions of diversity, and has a nice quote from the go-to person on the American family.
“This churning, this turnover in our intimate partnerships is creating complex families on a scale we’ve not seen before,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a mistake to think this is the endpoint of enormous change. We are still very much in the midst of it.”
At the same time, the story does little to explore the roots of these changes, with only the drop in fertility being mentioned. Readers of my book know the fuller story, of course. The diversity (which is not unique to America) is a reasonably predictable consequence of the drop in mortality, which keeps kids alive and allows fertility to drop while at the same time allowing people to live to older ages. As fertility drops, younger and older people are living many more years without children, and they are doing so in an increasingly urban, well-educated, gender equal world that is full of vastly more opportunity and alternatives than ever before in human history. It's a good path, but change like this always produces anxiety.

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