Note the glaring difference in the headlines given the stories derived from the same report
which appeared in the US News & World Report and the Washington Post:

Study: The American Family Is No More
Researchers say the most 'troubling' finding is
the economic polarization between families
By Allie Bidwell
US News & World Report, 2013-09-11

It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify what a "traditional" American family looks like.Once that meant a married couple, a father who worked, kids in school and a relatively stable lifestyle.

But due to a whirlwind of economic and social changes that took place during the last decade, young people are delaying marriage longer, permanent singlehood has increased, and the "marriage-go-round" of divorce and remarriage continues to rise. Those are the findings of a new study from a researcher at Ohio State University.

The study's author, Sociology Professor Zhenchao Qian, studied data from the 2000 Census and the 2008 to 2010 American Community Survey, concluding that in the 2000s, "there is no longer any such thing as a typical American family."

But the most troubling finding, Qian said, is the large disparity that has grown between families of different races and socioeconomic classes. Race, education, the economy and immigration status weigh heavily on how well families fare financially, he said.

Despite the negative changes in American families, one group has remained stable and most closely resembles what was once considered the American norm and that is the immigrant community. Qian found that immigrants tend to be married at a higher rate, and divorce and remarry at a lower rate when compared to those born in the United States.

Qian said the Great Recession of the late 2000s can account for many of the changes - across the board, regardless of race, young people born in the United States have delayed getting married, moved back in with their parents, and those who do marry get divorced at a higher rate.

"There is no doubt that the gap between America's haves and have-nots grew larger than ever during the 2000s," Qian said in a statement. "This gap has shaped American families in multiple ways. It influences the kind of families we live in and the kind of family environment in which we raise our children."

From 2008 to 2010, nearly half of young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 lived with their parents. During the same time, the percentage of U.S.-born women of that age who had ever been married declined from 31 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008 to 2010. The decline for men was similar, dropping from 21 percent to 11 percent.

Not only are young people putting off getting married, but when they do, they are more likely to get divorced and remarried, a cycle Qian calls the "marriage-go-round." Among currently married men, Qian found the percentage of those who were married more than once increased from 17 percent in 1980 to 25 percent in 2008 to 2010.

Outcomes were even worse for African-Americans: they had the lowest percentage of people who had ever been married, at every age group, the highest proportion of permanent singlehood by the age of 50 and the highest divorce-to-marriage ratios.

One bright spot in the study, however, is that the decade appeared to give greater stability in terms of the living arrangements among American-born children. The percentage of children living with two married, working parents increased from 41 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2008 to 2010.

"Economic inequality is key to the polarization of American families, and the disadvantages of children living in single and unstable families will just worsen the racial and ethnic inequalities we already have in this country," Qian said.

Children suffer from growing economic inequality among families since recession
By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post, 2013-09-11

American families are becoming increasingly polarized along race, class and educational lines, according to a new report released Wednesday, a sign of growing economic inequality that was exacerbated by the Great Recession.

The report, “Divergent Paths of American Families,” found a widening gap in recent years between families that are white, educated or economically secure and minority families, those headed by someone with a high school degree or less, and poor families.

The concern, report authors say, is not that American families are becoming diverse. Advances in civil rights and women’s economic independence have opened up individual choice and transformed the American family in the past 50 years. The concern, they wrote, is that the divisions fall along race, class and educational lines and that they are accelerating.

“I was struck by how strong the divide has become in terms of education,” said report author Zhenchao Qian, a sociologist at Ohio State University. “The gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the children who excel and who lag behind, grew larger than ever in the 2000s.”

Increasingly “Balkanized” American families, Qian said, set the children born into them on divergent paths to greater success or disadvantage based to a larger degree than before on the educational level of their parents.

Qian and his associates analyzed census data from 2000, 2008 and 2010 to study the effects of the Great Recession on families and found that men and women with high levels of education were more likely to be married. They were more likely to stay married. There were fewer instances of cohabitation or divorce than those with lower levels of education. And their children were much less likely to live in poverty and instead more likely to benefit from family stability, increased parent time and higher economic resources.

The report also found the Great Recession probably exacerbated the trend toward delaying marriage and the continued rise of people staying single.

Family historian Stephanie Coontz said that there never has been a “typical” American family. In the 18th and 19th centuries, child labor, slavery and economic inequality made for very diverse families. But family situations started to converge in the 20th century, she said, with the passage of child labor laws, progressive educational policies and a booming economy with real wages that increased every year in the 1950s.

“What we’re seeing today is two divergences,” Coontz said. “On the one hand, people have more options than they used to. Women have a choice not to enter a bad marriage or to get out of it. Divorce is no longer stigmatized. That diversity is here to stay. But then there’s this unpleasant diversity that’s not a matter of free choice but constrained options.”

This second divergence is a result “of widening economic inequality that, unless we decide as a society to invest in livable-wage jobs and a truly egalitarian educational system, will only get worse,” Coontz said.

In the report, Qian also found large divides between U.S.-born and immigrant families, with an overwhelming majority of immigrants, regardless of educational level, embracing marriage; eschewing divorce, cohabitation and remarriage after divorce; and more children living in traditional male-breadwinner, female-homemaker types of families.

U.S.-born couples, in contrast, were much more likely to marry, divorce and remarry. The report found that such “serial marriage” increased rapidly between 1980 and 2010, particularly among those with a high school degree or less.

Half of all U.S.-born white children younger than 17 lived in families with married parents, both of whom worked in 2008 to 2010, as did 33 percent of all U.S.-born Hispanic and 53 percent of U.S.-born Asian children. Nearly one-quarter of U.S.-born white, Hispanic and Asian children lived in more traditional breadwinner-homemaker families, fewer than among their immigrant counterparts.

The report found the biggest discrepancy for U.S.-born African American children. Twenty-four percent lived in families with married, dual-income parents — about half the percentage of children of other racial and ethnic groups. Thirty-seven percent lived in families headed by never-married or previously married single mothers, in contrast to 10 percent of US.-born white children, 16 percent of U.S.-born Hispanic children and 5 percent of U.S.-born Asian children. And 15 percent of U.S.-born African American children, higher than any other racial or ethnic group, lived with grandparents.

In the report, Qian found that, for all U.S.-born children, living arrangement was a strong indicator of poverty. Four percent of U.S.-born children living in dual-income families were poor in 2010, followed by 14 percent in traditional families, while nearly 60 percent of the children living with single, never-married mothers were.

“The vast majority of people want to have long-term, stable relationships,” said Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies family inequality. “The fact that rich people are becoming more able to do that than poor people is just another indicator of the unequal society we live in.”