Departmental Papers (Sociology)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source






Start Page


Last Page





Condran (Gretchen A.), Furstenberg (Frank F.) . - Trends in child welfare and transformations in the American family Is there any detectable synchronism between trends in the number of working mothers and divorce rates or numbers of births out of wedlock and trends in the number of teenagers gaining secondary school qualifications or going into higher education, drug or alcohol consumption, committing suicide or murder and having children out of wedlock? The first factors are indicators of the changes in American families over the last thirty years, while the other factors concern the behaviour of young people which could reflect the harmful effects on generations increasingly affected by these family transformations. On the one hand, changes in the family are not regressing, marking the decline in the traditional pattern of two parents and one breadwinner. On the other hand, there has been a wide variety of changes in the behaviour of young people. Some indicators show more or less continuous improvement in the welfare of young people (proportion with secondary school qualifications) while others show a deterioration now curbed (access to higher education, alcohol and drug consumption, etc.) while yet others are a sign of continuous deterioration (murder, suicide, illegitimate births). The latter are thus the only ones that could demonstrate a correlation with family transformations. But one should be careful even in such cases since women are less affected than men and the situation of blacks and whites sometimes moves in opposite directions. Overall, the general idea of the harmful effects of changes in the family on the welfare of children should be treated with the strongest reservations.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Available under CC BY-NC-ND license.


Article is written in French.



Date Posted: 08 June 2017