Demographic Trends in the United States: a Review of Research in the 2000s

In Andrew Cherlin’s “Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s”, there are various topics discussed regarding why the structure of family life is changing. The topics that were used for research were Marriage, Divorce, Fertility, Cohabitation, Same-sex unions, Children’s living arrangements, living apart together, early adulthood, immigration, and aging. Throughout the years there have been obvious changes in the previously presented topics that would lead to different patterns of family life structures.

There was once a linear progression that everyone followed, and it just doesn’t seem to be the same anymore. Deviations that appear in ones path lead to their conventional life cycle running differently. There were a few of the discussed topics that had a huge impact on the research that was being conducted. A few of the major concerns came up when researching ‘Marriage’. It turned out that statistically those with a college education were more likely to ever marry than are the less educated, even though they delay marriage.

This leads to the concept that one’s education has become more important since it’s becoming a determining factor on when someone decides they are ready for that step in their life. Personally, I can see how this has happened because as a college student myself I know that I wouldn’t want to get married until I have my own life put together. Once I graduate, and have a few years invested in a career I know is right, I’ll be ready to settle down and raise a family.

A lot of the people in my generation are being pushed to finish their education in order to be somebody in the future; therefore I’m not surprised that it has become a reason as to why the family structures are being changed. A few similar concerns arose when researching the topic of ‘Divorce’. The probability of divorce has declined among married couples in which the spouses have college degrees, whereas divorce probabilities have stayed roughly the same or even increased for the less educated.

This also makes sense to me because spouses will more likely want to stay with a spouse who has a degree that will in turn bring in more money to the household. Someone without a college degree, or even less education than that, won’t be able to support a home as much which will lead to the discussion of divorce. As far as the topic of ‘fertility’, there are rates described under each ethnic background. Research showed that the total fertility rate was 2. 0 in the United States, which is the amount required to replace the population. Those rates and the high levels of immigration into our country is the reason why there is no concern of a decline in the family size of the households. The topic that caught my attention the most was ‘early adulthood’. There has been a rise in the number of young adults who no longer live at home, and instead head their own households.

The reason behind this new stage in life is linked to education; because employment opportunities have improved more for the college educated, young adults are staying in school longer to finish school. I found this interesting because as a college student myself, I decided to live away from home in order to focus more on my studies, which will lead to better grades. This would then lead to a more successful future on my behalf.

Overall, there has been a lot of research done by family scholars to monitor the demographic trends of family structures. They are constantly trying to understand how and why the structure of family life is changing. As stated in the previous text, there are various topics that they address in order to find specific reasoning for these changes. Even with all the information and statistics there is still a lot more research left to do that future demographic researchers will have to take on.

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