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The Changing Character of Stepfamilies: Implications of Cohabitation and Nonmarital Childbearing

Citation

Bumpass, Larry L.; Raley, R. Kelly; & Sweet, James A. (1995). The Changing Character of Stepfamilies: Implications of Cohabitation and Nonmarital Childbearing. Demography, 32(3), 425-36.

Abstract

Divorce, nonmarital childbearing, and cohabitation are reshaping family experience in the United States. Because of these changes, our traditional definitions of families decreasingly capture of the social units of interest. We have noted how a significant proportion of officially defined single-parent families actually are two-parent unmarried families. The present paper expands on this perspective with respect to stepfamilies. We must broaden our definition of stepfamilies to include cohabitations involving a child of only one partner, and must recognize the large role of nonmarital childbearing in the creation of stepfamilies. We find that cohabitation and nonmarital childbearing have been important aspects of stepfamily experience for at least two decades, and that this is increasingly so. To define stepfamilies only in terms of marriage clearly underestimates both the level and the trend in stepfamily experience: when cohabitation is taken into account, about two-fifths of all women and 30% of all children are likely to spend some time in a stepfamily.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2061689

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Demography

Author(s)

Bumpass, Larry L.
Raley, R. Kelly
Sweet, James A.

Year Published

1995

Volume Number

32

Issue Number

3

Pages

425-36

Reference ID

203