During the past century the U.S. family system has seen vast changes--in marriage and divorce rates, cohabitation, childbearing, sexual behavior, and women's work outside the home. Andrew Cherlin reviews these historic changes, noting that marriage remains the most common living arrangement for raising children, but that children, especially poor and minority children, are increasingly likely to grow up in single-parent families and to experience family instability. Cherlin describes the economic and cultural forces that have transformed family life. Although nearly all Americans, whether poor or well-to-do, hold to marriage as an ideal, today marriage is increasingly optional. To a greater extent than ever before, individuals can choose whether to form a family on their own, in a cohabiting relationship, or in a marriage.
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American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century.