Nuclear Family - Changes To Family Formation

Changes To Family Formation

The popularity of the concept of the nuclear family in the West, as opposed to the traditional extended family living together, came about in the early 20th century, prompted in part by increased wages earned by the working class. This enabled more and more families to be economically independent, and thus to own their own home.

Current information from United States Census Bureau shows that 70% of children in the US live in traditional two-parent families, with 66% of those living with parents who are married, and 60% living with their biological parents, and that "the figures suggest that the tumultuous shifts in family structure since the late 1960s have leveled off since 1990."

If considered separate from couples without children, single-parent families, or unmarried couples with children, in the United States traditional nuclear families appear to constitute a minority of households with rising prevalence of other family arrangements. As of 2000, nuclear families with the original biological parents constituted roughly 24.1% of American households, compared to 40.3% in 1970. Roughly two-thirds of all children in the United States will spend at least some time in a single-parent household.

In the UK, the number of nuclear families fell from 39% of all households in 1968 to 28% in 1992. The decrease accompanied an equal increase in the number of single-parent households and the number of adults living alone.

According to some sociologists, " no longer seems adequate to cover the wide diversity of household arrangements we see today." (Edwards 1991; Stacey 1996). A new term has been introduced, postmodern family, which is meant to describe the great variability in family forms, including single-parent families and child-free couples."

According to Professor Wolfgang Haak of Adelaide University, the nuclear family is natural to Homo sapiens. A 2005 archeological dig in Elau, Germany, analyzed by Haak, revealed genetic evidence suggesting that the 13 individuals found in a grave were closely related. Haak said, "By establishing the genetic links between the two adults and two children buried together in one grave, we have established the presence of the classic nuclear family in a prehistoric context in Central Europe." However, even here the evidence suggests that the nuclear family was embedded with an extended family. The remains of three children (probably siblings based on DNA evidence) were found buried with a woman who was not their mother but may have been an "aunt or a step-mother."

Read more about this topic:  Nuclear Family

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