Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

27
Female-Headed Families:
Trends and Implications
ESTHER WATTENBERG HAZEL REINHARDT The decline of the archetypal family dramatically challenges the concept of what is "normative" in the United States. Only 6 percent of all American families fit the traditional definition of a working husband, a wife who is a full-time homemaker, and two young children (Norwood 1977, p. 31). Certainly dynamic trends are reshaping American families, and evidence of new family formations is emerging in the national demographic data that follow.
1. A shift in the timing of marriage. The proportion of women between ages twenty and twenty-four who remain single has almost doubled since 1960, increasing from 28 to 48 percent (Glick and Norton 1977, p. 6).
2. A rise in the rate of women who have never married. For women aged twenty‐ five to twenty-nine, in 1970, 11 percent were single; in 1978, 18 percent were single (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1978a, p. 4).
3. A rise in the rate of out-of-wedlock births. In 1960, 5 percent of all births were out of wedlock; by 1975, the percentage had risen to 14 (Glick and Norton 1977, p. 6).
4. A dramatic growth in the number of households. Since 1970 the number of households has increased by 20 percent. In addition, for the first time in the history of the United States, more than half (53 percent) of all households consists of just one or two people. This reflects a propensity for individuals to maintain independent households at all stages of life. Separate households include those now maintained by widowed men and women, by young cou

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