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CHAPTER V. Family
Figure 9. Percent Distribution of Families by Type and Region: 1940, 1960, and 1975
79. Total Own Children and Percent of Own Children
Living With Both Parents: 1960, 1965, 1970,
107 80. Total Own Children and Percent of Own
Children Living With Both parents, by Family
.... 108 81. Marital Status of the Population 14 Years Old and
Over, by Sex, for Selected Years: 1890 to 1975 . 109 82. Marital Status of the Population 35 to 44 Years
Old, by Sex, for Selected Years: 1890 to 1975. . 110 83. Percent Distribution of the Black Population 35
to 44 Years Old by Marital Status, Sex, and Region
76. Percent Distribution of Black Families by
Type and Region: 1940 to 1975. .
77. Husband-Wife Families by Age of Husband:
1940 to 1975....
78. Selected Characteristics of Families Maintained
by Women: 1950, 1960, 1970, and 1975...... 106
Number and Size of Households
contrast, husband-wife families have accounted for most of the growth in White families.
One indicator of the change in the structure of the traditional family unit is the proportion of all families which include both a husband and a wife. The 1940-75 period has been characterized by a downward trend in the proportion of Black families with a husband and wife present. In 1940, husband-wife families accounted for 77 percent of all Black families; by 1975, the figure was down to 61 percent. During this same time span, the proportion of White husband-wife families of all White families showed little change (table 74).
The decline in the proportion of Black husband-wife families of all Black families has been evident not only in the South, but also in the North and West. Although there were marginal differences in the regional figures, they did not give any real evidence that Southern Black families have been either more or less successful at avoiding family fragmentation than their Black counterparts in the North and West (table 76).
Between 1890 and 1975, there was a fivefold increase in the number of Black households from 1.4 to 7.3 million. During the same period, there was almost a sixfold increase in the number of White households. During the first three decades of this century, the number of households increased at a slower rate for Blacks than for Whites. In the 1940's and 1950's, the rate of increase was similar for Black and White households. Since 1960, however, the number of Black households has risen at a faster pace than White households (52 percent compared with 31 percent). Some of the recent changes since 1960 in the differential growth rate between Black and White households reflect the higher rate of population growth among those Blacks most likely to form new households (table 73). For example, the rate of growth during the 1960 decade among young Black adults age 18 to 34 was 36 percent as compared with 25 percent for White persons of the same age. One additional contributing factor had been the more rapid increase in the number of Black than White married couples who have separated or divorced and have subsequently established separate households.
Since 1890, the average number of persons per household has declined for both Blacks and Whites. For instance, in 1890, the average size of Black households was 5.3 persons, and in 1975, it was 3.3 persons (table 73). The reduction in household size has been related to declining fertility and other factors, such as recent increases in the number of young persons living alone and elderly persons maintaining their own households after their families have dissolved.
Families Maintained by a Woman
Families by Type and Distribution
Most of the discussion on changes in the structure and composition of the Black family relates to the past 35 years; this is because a reliable series of Census data on this subject is only available after 1940. A family is defined as two or more persons living together and related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
Between 1940 and 1975, the number of Black families doubled-from 2.7 to 5.5 million. During the same period, the number of White families increased by about 72 percent. The numerical increase in Black families is a result of substantial increase in both families maintained by a woman with no husband present and husband-wife families; by
The proportion of Black families maintained by a woman with no husband present has doubled since 1940. These families constituted about 35 percent of all Black families in 1975, compared with 18 percent in 1940. The increased frequency of Black women maintaining families may be largely accounted for by both high rates of marital discord (separation and divorce) and increased proportions of single (never married) women maintaining families.
In 1975, about 11 percent of all White families were maintained by women without a husband living with the family, a proportion that has shown little change since 1940 (tables 74 and 78).
Differences in the characteristics of Black and White women maintaining families are very evident. In 1975, about 31 percent of the Black women maintaining families were separated and 19 percent were divorced. In contrast, 15 percent of the comparable White women were separated and 33 percent were divorced. The Black-White differentials in the marital status of these women may reflect differences in both the social acceptability of separation versus divorce and the relatively greater financial ability of Whites to pay for a divorce (table 78).
Never-married women comprised about 9 percent of all Black women maintaining families and 12 percent of their White counterparts in 1950. By 1975, however, the relationship was reversed; the proportion of families maintained by a woman who had never been married was considerably higher for Blacks (22 percent) than for Whites (9 percent). This recent difference partially reflects the relatively higher incidence of births to unmarried Black women.
Black families maintained by women were more likely than the comparable group of White families to include children. In 1950, the proportion of Black families maintained by women with at least one own child under 18 was 47 percent, compared with 33 percent for Whites. In 1975, the corresponding proportions for Blacks and Whites were 71 and 57 percent, respectively (table 78). Living Arrangements of Children About three-quarters of all Black children under 18 lived with two parents in 1960, whereas only about one-half (54 percent) were living with both parents in 1975. In 1960, about 93 percent of White children under 18 lived with both parents; the corresponding figure for 1975 was 87 percent (table 79).
For both Blacks and Whites, the proportion of children living with both parents appears to be associated with family income. For example, among Black families with incomes under $4,000, less than one-fifth of the Black children lived with both parents in 1975. At the $15,000 and over income level, most (86 percent) Black children were living with both a mother and a father (table 80).
most of those who will ever marry have done so and when the proportion of persons who are divorced is at or near its height."
In 1890, about 11 percent of Black men and 7 percent of Black women 35 to 44 years old were reported as single (never married) and 83 percent of the men and 75 percent of the women were reported as married. By 1940, the proportions single had increased and the proportions reported as married had decreased over the 1890 levels. During the next 20-year period (1940 to 1960), there was a general shift in the marital status distribution for Black men and women resulting in smaller proportions who were single and larger proportions who were married. Thus, in this century, the percent married was at its peak for Blacks during the 1940-60 period (table 82).
In the 15 years since 1960, the proportion of Black women 35 to 44 years old who were married has declined while the proportion for Black men remained unchanged and little variation has been observed in the percent single.
In 1975, among Black men 35 to 44 years old, 1 percent were widowed and 7 percent divorced; corresponding proportions for Black women were 7 and 11 percent, respectively. Divorce has become more common and widowhood less common during the 85-years since 1890, with most of the change occurring after the 1940's. The decline in the proportion widowed has been due to general improvements in the life expectancy of Black men. The marital status trends for the White population have been generally similar to those for the Black population (table 82).
Larger proportions of Black men than of Black women 35 to 44 years old have consistently been reported "married" in each of the census years shown in table 82. The differences were at a minimum in the 1960 census possibly as a result of the peak in marriages during the 1940-60 period. Among other dissimilarities are larger proportions of single Black men than women, but larger proportions of widowed or divorced Black women. Variations in age structure, age at first marriage, rate of remarriage, and misreporting of marital status may account for some of the differentials.
Marital Status of the Population
The marital status distribution for Black men and women 14 years old and over for the years 1890 to 1975 is presented in table 81. The distribution has been strongly affected by the age composition of the Black population. To eliminate the influence of changing age structure, the discussion of marital status has been restricted to those 35 to 44 years old (table 82). Paul C. Glick has noted that the age group 35 to 44 years "may be characterized as 'approaching middle age' and is especially relevant because it covers a stage in life when
"Paul C. Glick, "Marriage and Marital Stability Among Blacks," Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, Vol. XLVIII, April 1970, p. 100.
Table 73. Number of Households and Average Size: 1890 to 1975
1890..... 1900... 1910. 1920. 1930. 1940. 1950. 1960. 1970.. 1975.
11, 255 14,064 18,002 21,826 26,983 31,680 38,429 47,868 56,529 62,945
(X) 25.0 28.0 21.2 23.6 17.4 21.3 24.6 18.1 11.3
4.89 4.75 4.54 4.34 4.09 3.73 3.50 3.23 3.06 2.89
X Not applicable.
NOTE: Data for number of households are not strictly comparable from year to year due to changes in definition and month of enumeration. In general, the definition of households for 1900 and 1930 to 1975 are similar. These years exclude quasi-households, whereas, the figures for 1890, 1910, and 1920 include quasi-households.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.