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Indicators of Change in the American Family

Indicators of Change in the American Family

Copyright Date: 1970
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Indicators of Change in the American Family
    Book Description:

    Provides a selection of existing and new measures of family change. The statistical time series are presented and organized around the topics of marriage, marital status, households, fertility, divorce, dependency, work and income, and poverty. The series selected for inclusion were chosen because of an apparent or assumed significant change which they displayed. They are illustrated by graphs and accompanied by a brief commentary. The statistical series are numbered in an appendix, and sources of the data are cited at the foot of the page of commentary.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-203-9
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. iii-vi)
    Eleanor Bernert Sheldon

    As far-reaching change takes place in American society, the social science community and those concerned with public policy and intervention increasingly seek data relevant to an examination of social change. In anticipation of this twofold demand for systematic data and analysis, the Russell Sage Foundation instituted a program of study on “social indicators” in 1965.Indicators of Change in the American Familyis the third in a series of publications resulting from this program effort.

    The first volume of the series,Indicators of Social Change(1968), edited by Eleanor Bernert Sheldon and Wilbert E. Moore, presented a general framework for...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. List of Series
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    These statistical data on critical trends in the family are bounded by two limits: (1) what is available, and (2) knowledge of what reveals significant trends. Both what is available and what is revealing, then, constrained selections for this small collection of data on the family.

    Although a great deal of data may be available on the family, not all of it is periodically collected to produce time series. Time series are essential if one is to track changes in the institution, in family characteristics relative to other social changes, and to trace the direction the institution is following into...

    (pp. 8-9)

    Marriages per 1,000 unmarried women, ages 15 to 44 years, are shown in the accompanying chart (Series 1). The predominant influence of World War II upon the marriage rate is illustrated by the initial increase in the rate to 1942, followed by a decline to 1944. Marriages that were delayed because of the war were consummated immediately afterward, accounting for the great increase in the rate in 1946. The marriage rate continued at a fairly high level during the 1950s, although it was declining, and reached a low point in 1962.

    Also presented on the graph is the ratio of...

    (pp. 10-29)

    While the percentage married of the female population increased slightly during World War II, it increased rapidly in the immediate postwar period, from 1946 to 1949. In the eleven years after 1949--that is, to 1960--the percentage married remained fairly constant at approximately 67 or 68 percent. Since 1959 the percent married has declined approximately 0.3 percentage points each year, fairly uniformly. The decline in percent married has been noticably greater among females younger than 25 years and older than 65 years.

    During the 1940–1965 period, the size of single year-of-age cohorts has changed considerably. Since marital status is highly...

    (pp. 30-49)

    As the population has grown, the number of households has increased. Household formation was interrupted slightly at the time of World War I, markedly during the Depression, and slightly during World War II and is at present (1968) entering a period of fairly rapid expansion. During the year ending March 1968, households increased 1.6 million (Census, 1968c: 1). The annual increase to 1970 will slightly exceed one million. By 1975 the number of households will be between 68 and 70 million (Census, 1968i: 2).

    In 1910 approximately 31 percent of the households were on farms. By late 1968, however, the...

    (pp. 50-67)

    The net reproduction rate combines both the fertility and mortality experience for the year and thus provides a fairly sensitive index of the effect of present rates on population change, excluding migration. The rate shows the average number of daughters that a cohort of 1,000 females would bear during their reproductive life, if they were to experience the prevailing age-specific mortality and fertility rates. A net reproduction rate of 1,000 indicates that present rates are sufficient to replace the population within a generation. A rate greater than 1,000 reflects a potential increase in the population within a generation. The amount...

    (pp. 68-73)

    A dependency ratio reflects the child-rearing task of a population in relation to its adults of working ages. As Figure 30 shows, support of children is not uniformly borne throughout the United States. The Northeast has always been more advantaged than the other regions, and the South has been more disadvantaged.

    The rise in the dependency ratio, shown here by the increase from 1950 to 1955 and thereafter, may be attributed to the increase in the number of births that began in postwar 1946 and continued increasing to 1961.

    The decline in the dependency ratio following 1964 was due to...

    (pp. 74-81)

    Being based upon the divorces granted within a year and the number of married females, this is a “period” statistic. As such, the series responds to general socioeconomic conditions. With rising prosperity, the divorce rate increases, and it declines during periods of serious economic depression. The excessively high rate around 1946 (Figure 33) results from the personal and social dislocations during and following World War II. However, the 1946 rate is abnormally high, even for a postwar period, since “many marital difficulties of the war years did not reach the courts until after the close of hostilities, thus greatly increasing...

    (pp. 82-91)

    The labor force participation rate is the percentage in the labor force who are working or looking for work. The association of marital status with participation in the labor force is shown in Figure 36 for the 20 to 24 age groups of males and females.

    High rates of participation in the labor force characterize married men and men who are separated, divorced, or widowed (“other” males). Single males, on the other hand, have considerably lower rates of participation in the labor force. Part of the decline in participation of this age group, illustrated by the decreasing rate for single...

    (pp. 92-97)

    The Social Security Administration has developed an index of poverty. The annual income of a family at the poverty level varies with family size, age, and sex of the head of the household, and whether the family is a farm or nonfarm resident. For example, the poverty-level criteria used in March 1967 varied from $1,105 for a one-person farm family with a male head over 65 years of age, to $5,440 for a nonfarm family of seven or more members with a male head. Since level is based upon the assumption that one-third of income is spent for food, the...

  16. Statistical Series
    (pp. 98-129)
    (pp. 130-145)