Family Work Systems
During the twentieth century, the social organization of work changed considerably. On the one hand, employers constantly changed the demand for different types of work and the financial rewards paid. As the shifting of the demand for labor accelerated toward the end of the twentieth century, this process came to be known as "economic restructuring." On the other hand, families altered the supply of labor. They changed the manner in which family members' labor is allocated between internal domestic services and employment for wages. As they did so, the family economy was recomposed.
The family economy ( Elder, 1977), or household economy ( Wilk, 1989), consists of organized practices. through which members of a family meet their individual and collective needs. One set of practices involves the allocation of human labor, or work, to different tasks. This often takes the form of a division of labor between family members, who engage in work of different kinds. In traditional breadwinner-homemaker families, for example, the husband goes out to work to earn the family wage while the wife maintains the home and looks after any children or other family members in need of care.
In the nineteenth century, one earnings strategy that was widely employed by working-class families was to send children out to work as soon as possible. Rowntree ( 1902) reported that in York at the end of the nineteenth century the wages of older children often played an important