In recent years American families have diverged from the path of the nuclear family that includes a dog and a white picket fence explains a new study done by Zhenchao Qian, professor of sociology at Ohio State University.
The study analyzed data from the 2000 United States Census, the 2008-2010 American Community Survey, a yearly survey administered by the Census Bureau in which a small amount of the population is sampled. Other sources have also been used mainly from the US 2010 Project, a project that tracks the trends in American society.
“The state of American families has become increasingly polarized,” says Qian.”Race and ethnicity, education, economics and immigration status are increasingly linked to how well families fare.”
The analysis shows that young people are delaying marriages causing an overall decrease in marriage and an increase in being single; divorce and remarriage rates have risen as well. However, educated, economically stable, and white individuals have a higher family stability rate than uneducated, poor, and minorities do.
In his analysis he states, “The percentage of U.S.-born women aged 20-24 who have ever been married declined from 31 percent to 19 percent between 2000 and 2008-2010. For men, the decline was from 21 percent to 11 percent.”
Qian points out the Great Recession, an economic decline during late 2000s, may be the reason for such change.
“There is no doubt that the gap between America’s haves and have-nots grew larger than ever during the 2000s,” he said. “The growing racial, ethnic and educational divide in American families had a lot to do with economic resources, a factor that was especially important during the Great Recession.”
During the recession period more and more young adults moved back with their parents as they looked for a job. Data shows that in 2008 to 2010, 43 percent of 20 to 24-year-olds moved back with their parents. Meanwhile only19 percent of 25 to 29-year-olds did the same.
From 2000 to 2010 there is an overall decline of U.S born women ages 20 to 24 getting married from 31 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008 to 2010. The percentage for men declined as well from 21 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2008 to 2010.
These numbers although show a decline in marriages, deeper probing into the numbers show that African Americans have the highest singlehood rate in all age groups. By the age of 50 most were doomed to permanent singlehood. Unlike their Hispanic counterparts African Americans had lower rates of cohabitation.
“A lot of this can be linked to the poor economic circumstances of African Americans,” says Qian. “Unemployment, underemployment and poor economic prospects have a strong negative effect on whether people get married and stay married. African Americans are more likely than other groups to experience all of these problems.”
Yet there is hope. Immigrants reflect the “typical” American family, they tend to have higher successful marriage rates, lower divorce and remarriage rates, and were less likely to have sexual relations before marriage except Hispanics.
“Immigrants aren’t likely to experience multiple marital transitions,” he said. “An overwhelming majority married, stayed married, or remained divorced among the few who failed the first marriage.”
The study does not take into consideration that the modern American family also consists of homosexual couples.