3. American Families

Demographic Trends and Social Class

  1. Judith Treas,
  2. Jacqueline Scott and
  3. Martin Richards
  1. Wendy D. Manning and
  2. Susan L. Brown

Published Online: 21 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118374085.ch3

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families

How to Cite

Manning, W. D. and Brown, S. L. (2014) American Families, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families (eds J. Treas, J. Scott and M. Richards), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118374085.ch3

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2014
  2. Published Print: 26 MAR 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470673539

Online ISBN: 9781118374085



  • Marriage;
  • Childbearing;
  • Social change;
  • Education


American families have undergone a radical transformation even in the last decade. A critical factor that may have influenced some of the recent change in families is the economic recession. In the wake of the recession, the middle class has become smaller, and it has become harder to maintain their standard of living (Pew Research Center 2012a). All education groups have experienced the loss in income; however, those with only a high school degree have experienced the greatest loss (Pew Research Center 2012a). This chapter examines recent demographic trends and specifically focuses on changes in the family according to socioeconomic status. We begin with a discussion of what constitutes a family and then provide a description of change in the timing and composition of families. Finally, we consider how those trends have differed according to social class and reflect on what this might mean for future generations.