This paper was competitively chosen to be part of the official observance of The United Nations 10th Anniversary International Year of the Family. It was first presented at the Asia Pacific Dialogue Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 11-14, 2004 and then it was included as part of the official record of proceedings from the Doha conference in Quatar.
Census estimates of the number of couples “living together” without marriage in the United States is ten time larger today than in 19701 and far too many of those households include children.2 This trend is producing a cultural transformation that has profound ramifications both for people and public policies. “The central place of marriage in our family system is eroding,” said sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin, but he does not see this development as a “cataclysmic” change.3 Other family scholars debate whether “change” represents a “decline.” In this paper, I argue that the changes in family structure are profoundly reshaping American society and that the ramifications of these changes are especially detrimental to the well-being of women and children, who are bearing the brunt of the cultural trends. A brief overview will indicate how living arrangements are changing. [more …]
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