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Canada's Changing Families

Canada's Changing Families: Implications for Individuals and Society

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 352
  • Book Info
    Canada's Changing Families
    Book Description:

    In recent years, two significant trends have had a substantial impact on Canadian families. First, Canadian families have been dramatically altered by high rates of separation and divorce, declining fertility, greater popularity of alternative family arrangements such as cohabitation, and increasing involvement of women in paid labour. Second, changes occurring in the economy and the larger society have brought new pressures to bear on families. InCanada's Changing Families, editors Kevin McQuillan and Zenaida R. Ravenera explore how these developments have altered family life.

    Using data collected in recent surveys by Statistics Canada, contributors to this volume illustrate how transformed conditions in the labour market have forced families to alter their routines and the division of responsibilities within the household. At the same time, the government, striving to maintain or increase the competitive position of the economy, has moved to control spending, restrain taxes, and reduce deficits. The result has been new demands on the family to provide or supplement services that might otherwise be provided by the state.

    Canada's Changing Familiesis an eye-opening study and one of great contemporary relevance.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7169-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Canada, like other advanced industrial societies, has witnessed profound changes to its economic and social institutions in recent years. The globalization of the economy, the changing nature of work, rapid technological growth, and the increasing diversity of the population have reshaped many facets of social life. On the whole, these developments have produced positive results. Rising incomes and rising life expectancy support such a conclusion. At the same time, social scientists have expressed concern about other trends that have accompanied these improvements. Growing income inequality, declining civic engagement, and persistent high levels of child poverty have led some to worry...

  5. Part One: Changes in Families:: Childbearing, Work Patterns, and Life Course Transitions

    • 2 Transformed Families and the Basis for Childbearing
      (pp. 15-48)

      One of the most significant family changes is in terms of numbers of children. Given the importance of childbearing to individuals, to the demographic reproduction of society, and to the relative size of age groups, much attention is placed on observing and interpreting the trends.

      Childbearing can be viewed in terms of the desires that people have, and the constraints under which they operate. There is debate in the literature with regard to the relative importance of economic and cultural questions in influencing fertility change. Caldwell (1997) develops a ‘unifying theory’ based both on the changed socioeconomic circumstances of people’s...

    • 3 A Balancing Act: Parents’ Work Arrangements and Family Time
      (pp. 49-75)

      Since the middle of the twentieth century the Canadian family has evolved dramatically, in particular because of the impetus of the massive entry of women into the labour force. At the outset, labour force participation was usually reserved for single and childless women, but it gradually extended to mothers of school-aged children, and finally also to mothers of young children. As a result, families where both parents work outside the home have become commonplace. This new reality entails aspects that profoundly modify the framework in which the relationships between men and women are expressed and within which couples raise their...

    • 4 Parental Time, Work Schedules, and Changing Gender Roles
      (pp. 76-104)

      The economic and demographic changes observed in the past few decades have profoundly altered the family life of individuals in Canada, as well as in most western societies. Around 1965 these societies entered their ‘second demographic transition’ (Van de Kaa 1987), and successively experienced a sharp reduction of fertility, an increase of divorce that was followed by a decline in marriage, and the rise of cohabiting unions, first, as a way to start conjugal life and, then, to form families. As a consequence, in today’s families there are a smaller number of children than in those existing some thirty-five years...

    • 5 Delayed Life Transitions: Trends and Implications
      (pp. 105-132)

      In Canada and in a number of other societies, life course patterns of the past forty years have seen delayed transitions associated with home leaving, completion of education, and family formation. This chapter reviews these trends and considers the implications for the various phases of the life course, and for the society as a whole. We will start with the transitions associated with families, that is, home leaving, union formation, and first birth; but these are clearly linked to the transitions of education and work. All of these have undergone delays over the past four decades, which is in marked...

  6. Part Two: Family Transformation and Investment in Children

    • 6 The Evolving Family Living Arrangements of Canada’s Children: Consequences for Child Poverty and Child Outcomes
      (pp. 135-159)
      DON KERR

      Children can draw parents into closer contact with others in their neighborhood, at school, and in the community (Scheon et al. 1997; Beaujot and Ravanera 2001). With a common interest in providing for educational and recreational activities for their children, family life and the raising of children might very well be understood as one means, among many others, to potentially increase the degree of social integration in a community.

      Yet just as children are a source of social integration for adults, families can be conceived of as fundamental to the integration of children. In the first decade of life, the...

    • 7 The Impact of Family Context on Adolescent Emotional Health during the Transition to High School
      (pp. 160-178)

      Substantial evidence from middle school research indicates that transition-related changes experienced during the move to a new school contribute to how students adapt and, thus, to their emotional adjustment and academic success (Bronfenbrenner and Morris 1998; Hirsch and Dubois 1992). Few studies focus on the adolescent adjustment to high school, and even fewer include in their analyses the influence of family characteristics on adolescent emotional health during a school transition. By using the developmental systems perspective as our theoretical foundation (Lerner 1985; 2002; Bronfenbrenner and Morris 1998), this chapter will examine the influence of family structure as well as individual...

    • 8 Intergenerational Transfer: The Impact of Parental Separation on Young Adults’ Conjugal Behaviour
      (pp. 179-209)

      Family life has undergone profound transformations over the past thirty years. The rise of conjugal instability has resulted in a growing number of children who are likely to experience parental separation through the course of their life. Do children who grew up in an environment marked by disruption in their parents’ conjugal lives, in turn, start their own conjugal lives differently from children who did not experience such family instability? This chapter explores this question by presenting the results of an analysis based on data from 1995 General Social Survey on the family (Statistics Canada 1996). These data allow us...

    • 9 Single Parenthood and Labour Force Participation: The Effect of Social Policies
      (pp. 210-236)

      This chapter aims to shed light on variations in the labour force participation rates of single mothers and to explore how social policies may influence their involvement in paid work. A focus on single mothers and their families is especially pertinent in the context of concerns about social cohesion, because the manner in which society arranges support for particularly vulnerable groups reveals its capacity to avoid social exclusion and the resulting problems.

      Changes in family structure over the past three decades have brought about an increase in the number and the relative importance of singleparent families and have profoundly modified...

  7. Part Three: Family Solidarity and Social Integration

    • 10 Family Solidarity in Canada: An Exploration with the General Social Survey on Family and Community Support
      (pp. 239-263)

      The transformation of family structures, duration of family roles, and members’ relationships to one another could be traced to demographic changes in fertility and mortality. Blum and LeBras (1985) called the change ‘verticalization’ of the family, as opposed to the ‘horizontal’ relationships that existed in traditional societies. The horizontal family structure had two or at most three generations, each with four or five siblings. It typically involved relationships between members of the same generation, near and distant cousins. In contrast, the vertical family structure of today is typically multigenerational, having three to five generations, each with fewer siblings. Moreover, the...

    • 11 Social Integration over the Life Course: Influences of Individual, Family, and Community Characteristics
      (pp. 264-292)

      Social integration, or the process through which individuals are included in the economic, political, and social fabric of society, differs by life course stages, with each stage broadly characterized by different channels of integration. For children, formal integration into society is mainly through school. Youth’s integration is still largely through school, but they also go through the process of getting integrated through work. For adults, the most likely means of integration is through work, although this is truer for men than for women. Many women are integrated into society through volunteering, mainly in child-oriented organizations in schools and in communities....

    • 12 Conclusion: Family Change and the Challenge for Social Policy
      (pp. 293-306)

      A Canadian who had been absent from the country since the early 1960s could be forgiven for reacting with astonishment to the changes that have taken place in family life in Canada. Looking back, we can see that the early years of the 1960s marked the beginning of the end for a model of family life that was relatively short-lived but had a profound influence on our social institutions and on popular perceptions of the contours of family living. The buoyant prosperity of the 1950s allowed the realization of a model of family life built on early and near universal...