A new study by sociologists at the Ohio State University finds growing polarization on race, class, and educational lines among American families.
Researchers found that, in the 2000s, “[w]hite people, the educated and the economically secure have much more stable family situations than minorities, the uneducated and the poor.” In other words, how well families fare in America is increasingly linked to race, poverty, education, and immigration status.
The report found that, for all U.S.-born children, living arrangement was a strong indicator of poverty. Four percent of U.S.-born children living in dual-income families were poor in 2010, followed by 14 percent in traditional families, while nearly 60 percent of the children living with single, never-married mothers were.
Based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census and the 2008-2010 American Community Survey, among other sources, the study found the recession contributed to growing divorce rates, permanent singlehood, and delays in young people getting married, and that impact hit African Americans the hardest.
African Americans had the lowest percentage ever married at every age group, the highest proportion of permanent singlehood by ages 50-54, lower levels of cohabitation, highest divorce-to-marriage ratios, and a larger share of remarriages.
“Unemployment, underemployment and poor economic prospects have a strong negative effect on whether people get married and stay married. African Americans are more likely than other groups to experience all of these problems,” said the study’s author Zhenchao Qian.
As Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies family inequality, told the Washington Post, “The vast majority of people want to have long-term, stable relationships. The fact that rich people are becoming more able to do that than poor people is just another indicator of the unequal society we live in.”