An Historical Perspective of Step-Parenting in the United States: Exploring Changes in the American Family Using an Age-Period-Cohort Model

Carrie E. Spearin, Brown University
Berna Miller Torr

Demographic changes during the last 50 years have re-shaped the American family. Increases in divorce, non-marital births, and cohabitation have shifted childrearing from co-residence with biological parents to a variety of family environments. However, changes in living with children differed for men and women. Mothers were more likely to live with their children, while men were increasingly less likely to live with their own children and more likely to live with someone else’s. These changes have shifted the role of parenthood, especially for men, from a biological to a social one. Using an Age-Period-Cohort model we investigate the incidence of social parenting in the United States since 1940. Using IPUMS data (1940-2000), we examine gender, age, period, and cohort differences in step-parenting. As expected, we find significant gender differences over time. We also find higher incidences of step-parenting among younger adults, cohorts born after 1945, and in periods after 1990.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration, Income, Employment, Neighborhoods and Residential Context