, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 1797–1823

Patriarchy, Power, and Pay: The Transformation of American Families, 1800–2015


DOI: 10.1007/s13524-015-0440-z

Cite this article as:
Ruggles, S. Demography (2015) 52: 1797. doi:10.1007/s13524-015-0440-z


This article proposes explanations for the transformation of American families over the past two centuries. I describe the impact on families of the rise of male wage labor beginning in the nineteenth century and the rise of female wage labor in the twentieth century. I then examine the effects of decline in wage labor opportunities for young men and women during the past four decades. I present new estimates of a precipitous decline in the relative income of young men and assess its implications for the decline for marriage. Finally, I discuss explanations for the deterioration of economic opportunity and speculate on the impact of technological change on the future of work and families.


Marriage Family Wage labor Relative income 

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minnesota Population CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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