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This paper reviews the major demographic trends underlying the transformation of the American family in the last few decades and discusses the consequences of these trends for different members of the population — women (particularly as mothers), men (particularly as fathers), children, and the elderly. The key demographic trends relevant to the discussion are (1) high rates of divorce and increases in the proportion of births occurring outside marriage, which together have led to a substantial increase in the proportion of children living in single-parent (usually female-headed) families; (2) increasing average ages at first marriage, which have led to an increasing proportion of adults not living in traditional family arrangements; (3) a continuing steady increase in work outside the home by women at all stages of family formation, even those with young children; and (4) declining mortality and fertility rates, which have led to a reduction in the proportion of children in the population and an increase in the number and proportion of older people.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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