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Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition

Abstract

In this article, I argue that the trends associated with the second demographic transition are following two trajectories and leading to greater disparities in children’s resources. Whereas children who were born to the most-educated women are gaining resources, in terms of parents’ time and money, those who were born to the least-educated women are losing resources. The forces behind these changes include feminism, new birth control technologies, changes in labor market opportunities, and welfare-state policies. I contend that Americans should be concerned about the growing disparity in parental resources and that the government can do more to close the gap between rich and poor children.

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A previous version of this article was delivered as the Presidential Address at the 2004 annual meeting of the Population Association of America, April 1–3, Boston. I am grateful to the members of the MacAthur Network on “The Family and the Economy” and to Anne Case, Andrew Cherlin, Angus Deaton, Greg Duncan, Irv Garfinkel, Josh Goldstein, John Hobcraft, Christopher Jencks, Kathleen Kiernan, Dan Lichter, Robert Moffitt, Robert Pollak, and Judith Seltzer for their comments on previous drafts. I also am grateful to Kevin Bradway, Marcia Carlson, Christine Connelly, Jean Knab, Regina Leidy, Cynthia Osborne, Christine Percheski, and Brenda Szittya for their assistance.

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Mclanahan, S. Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition. Demography 41, 607–627 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2004.0033

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Keywords

  • Single Motherhood
  • Demographic Transition
  • Maternal Employment
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • Father Absence