Family Ties

Kevin Lewis

March 18, 2010

Direct Male Care and Hominin Evolution: Why Male-Child Interaction Is More Than a Nice Social Idea

Lee Gettler
American Anthropologist, March 2010, Pages 7-21

Early members of the genus Homo experienced heightened absolute metabolic costs, partially owing to increases in body size. However, as is characteristic of modern humans, they also likely began reproducing with shortened interbirth intervals. Male investment in offspring may help explain how this life history shift occurred. Evolutionary models of hominin male investment in offspring have traditionally focused on provisioning of females and young, yet the extent to which direct male care of offspring was evolutionarily important, from an energetic perspective, is largely unaddressed. I propose an evolutionary model of direct male care, demonstrating that males could have helped reduce the energetic burden of caregiving placed on mothers by carrying young. In doing so, males would have assisted females in achieving and maintaining an energetic condition sufficient for reproduction, thereby hastening the advent of shortened interbirth intervals that played a formative role in the success of our genus.


Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility

Adam Isen & Betsey Stevenson
NBER Working Paper, February 2010

This paper examines how marital and fertility patterns have changed along racial and educational lines for men and women. Historically, women with more education have been the least likely to marry and have children, but this marriage gap has eroded as the returns to marriage have changed. Marriage and remarriage rates have risen for women with a college degree relative to women with fewer years of education. However, the patterns of, and reasons for, marriage have changed. College educated women marry later, have fewer children, are less likely to view marriage as "financial security", are happier in their marriages and with their family life, and are not only the least likely to divorce, but have had the biggest decrease in divorce since the 1970s compared to women without a college degree. In contrast, there have been fewer changes in marital patterns by education for men.

An Adaptive Cognitive Dissociation Between Willingness to Help Kin and Nonkin in Samoan Fa'afafine

Paul Vasey & Doug VanderLaan
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Androphilia refers to sexual attraction and arousal to adult males, whereas gynephilia refers to sexual attraction and arousal to adult females. Previous research has demonstrated that Samoan male androphiles (known locally as fa'afafine) exhibit significantly higher altruistic tendencies toward nieces and nephews than do Samoan women and gynephilic men. The present study examined whether adaptive design features characterize the psychological mechanisms underlying fa'afafine's elevated avuncular tendencies. The association between altruistic tendencies toward nieces and nephews and altruistic tendencies toward nonkin children was significantly weaker among fa'afafine than among Samoan women and gynephilic men. We argue that this cognitive dissociation would allow fa'afafine to allocate resources to nieces and nephews in a more economical, efficient, reliable, and precise manner. These findings are consistent with the kin selection hypothesis, which suggests that androphilic males have been selected over evolutionary time to act as "helpers-in-the-nest," caring for nieces and nephews and thereby increasing their own indirect fitness.


How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?

Timothy Biblarz & Judith Stacey
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2010, Pages 3-22

Claims that children need both a mother and father presume that women and men parent differently in ways crucial to development but generally rely on studies that conflate gender with other family structure variables. We analyze findings from studies with designs that mitigate these problems by comparing 2-parent families with same or different sex coparents and single-mother with single-father families. Strengths typically associated with married mother-father families appear to the same extent in families with 2 mothers and potentially in those with 2 fathers. Average differences favor women over men, but parenting skills are not dichotomous or exclusive. The gender of parents correlates in novel ways with parent-child relationships but has minor significance for children's psychological adjustment and social success.


Do African American mothers really "love" their sons and "raise" their daughters?

Jelani Mandara, Fatima Varner & Scott Richman
Journal of Family Psychology, February 2010, Pages 41-50

This study assessed 1500 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth to test the hypothesis that African American mothers differentially socialize their girls and boys. The results showed that later-born boys had fewer chores, argued more with their mothers, lived in less cognitively stimulating homes, and were not allowed to make the same decisions as were the girls or firstborn boys at the same age. The later-born boys were also lowest in achievement and highest in externalizing behaviors. Parenting differences accounted for the achievement differences but not for the externalizing behavior differences. It was concluded that the later-born boys would achieve at the same rates as their siblings if they were socialized in the same manner as their siblings.


The supermom trap: Do involved dads erode moms' self-competence?

Takayuki Sasaki, Nancy Hazen & William Swann
Personal Relationships, March 2010, Pages 71-79

Increasingly, husbands have been expected to share equally in the task of childrearing, especially when their wives are employed. This study examined reactions to these changes in a sample of 78 dual-earner couples with 8-month-old infants. When wives felt that their husbands were skillful caregivers, greater husbands' contribution to caregiving was associated with lower self-competence among wives. In contrast, wives' caregiving behavior was unrelated to their husbands' self-competence. None of these effects emerged for the self-liking component of self-esteem. Thus, despite increasingly egalitarian sex roles, employed mothers (but not their husbands) seem to be trapped between their desire for help with childrearing and the threat to their personal competence posed by failure to meet socially constructed ideals of motherhood.


Low-income single mothers' community violence exposure and aggressive parenting practices

Saijun Zhang & Steven Anderson
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

This study examined the association between maternal community violence exposure and parenting practices, with a sample of low-income single mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (FFCW) and related in-home child survey. Psychologically aggressive and physically aggressive parenting practices were measured with two subscales derived from the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales (CTSPC). Community violence exposure was measured with items indicating being a witness to or victim of community violence. Bivariate analysis indicated that the intensity of community violence exposure was positively associated with both types of aggressive parenting practices. In the multivariate analysis, mothers with moderate and high levels of community violence exposure were 2.1 time and 2.4 times, respectively, more likely to engage in a higher level of physically aggressive parenting, when compared to mothers with no exposure to violence. Such rates were 1.7 and 1.8 times higher with respect to psychologically aggressive parenting practices. The findings highlight the need for expanding research to better understand the association between community violence and the wellbeing of children and families, and suggest the importance of supporting low-income single mothers who have been exposed to community violence through effective parenting programs and other community social services.


Motherhood and Criminal Desistance in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

Derek Kreager, Ross Matsueda & Elena Erosheva
Criminology, February 2010, Pages 221-258

Evidence from several qualitative studies has suggested that the transition to motherhood has strong inhibitory effects on the delinquency and drug use trajectories of poor women. Quantitative studies, however, typically have failed to find significant parenthood or motherhood effects. We argue that the latter research typically has not examined motherhood in disadvantaged settings or applied the appropriate statistical method. Focusing on within-individual change, we test the motherhood hypothesis using data from a 10-year longitudinal study of more than 500 women living in disadvantaged Denver communities. We find that the transition to motherhood is associated significantly with reductions in delinquency, marijuana, and alcohol behaviors. Moreover, we find that the effect of motherhood is larger than that of marriage for all outcomes. These results support the qualitative findings and suggest that the transition to motherhood-and not marriage-is the primary turning point for disadvantaged women to exit delinquent and drug-using trajectories.


Assessing the Impact of Education and Marriage on Labor Market Exit Decisions of Women

Julie Hotchkiss, Melinda Pitts & Mary Beth Walker
Federal Reserve Bank Working Paper, February 2010

During the late 1990s, the convergence of women's labor force participation rates to men's rates came to a halt. This paper explores the degree to which the role of education and marriage in women's labor supply decisions also changed over this time period. Specifically, this paper investigates women's decisions to exit the labor market upon the birth of a child. The results indicate that changing exit behavior among married, educated women at this period in their lives was not likely the driving force behind the aggregate changes seen in labor force participation. Rather, changes in exit rates among single women, particularly those less educated, are much more consistent with the changing pattern of aggregate female labor force participation.


Has the Marital Time Cost of Parenting Changed Over Time?

Jeffrey Dew
Social Forces, December 2009, Pages 519-542

Qualitative and quantitative research has suggested that married couples handle the increasing demands of intensive parenting norms and work expectations by reducing spousal time (e.g., the time that spouses spend alone with each other). Using nationally representative time-diary data, this study examined whether married individuals with children at home lost more spousal time in the years 1975-2003 than individuals without children at home. The analyses showed that on average married individuals have reduced their spousal time by 50 minutes a day. Contrary to expectations, however, individuals with minor children at home had lower time declines than individuals without children. The strategies that assisted married individuals with children to protect their spousal time differed between weekdays and weekend days.


"Do You Know...": The power of family history in adolescent identity and well-being

Robyn Fivush, Marshall Duke & Jennifer Bohanek
Journal of Family Life, February 2010

Family stories are theorized to be a critical part of adolescents' emerging identity and well-being, yet to date we know very little about adolescents' knowledge of their family history and intergenerational family stories. In this study, we expand our previous findings that pre-adolescent children who know more about their family history display higher levels of emotional well-being. Sixty-six broadly middle-class, mixed race, 14- to 16-year old adolescents from two-parent families were asked to complete a measure of family history, the "Do You Know..." scale (DYK), as well as multiple standardized measures of family functioning, identity development and well-being. Adolescents who report knowing more stories about their familial past show higher levels of emotional well-being, and also higher levels of identity achievement, even when controlling for general level of family functioning. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.


Fertility Determinants and Economic Uncertainty: An Assessment Using European Panel Data

George Hondroyiannis
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2010, Pages 33-50

This study examined the determinants of fertility, using panel data for 27 European countries. We employed panel co-integration to estimate fertility as function of demographic and economic variables. We showed that low fertility in most industrialized countries in Europe is due to low infant mortality rates, high female employment, low nuptiality rate, and high opportunity cost of having children. Using two measures of economic uncertainty, which are associated with labor market decisions - a production (an output) volatility measure and the unemployment rate - we examined to what extent economic insecurities affect fertility decisions. The empirical results showed that both measures of economic uncertainty have a significant negative impact on fertility implying that labor market insecurities might be a significant factor affecting fertility decisions.


The Division of Labour Among European Couples: The Effects of Life Course and Welfare Policy on Value-Practice Configurations

Felix Bühlmann, Guy Elcheroth & Manuel Tettamanti
European Sociological Review, February 2010, Pages 49-66

Even though egalitarian gender values are increasingly spreading among younger Europeans, division of labour does not always comply with this trend. Traditional theories of familial behaviour struggle to explain the resulting paradoxical simultaneity of egalitarian values and inegalitarian practices. In this article, we propose an approach based on the ideas that (i) practices are the translation of values moderated by specific social structures and (ii) incoherencies between values and practices are biographically unstable. Therefore, the biographical stage and welfare policies support or hinder couples in realizing their values in the form of specific divisions of work. On the basis of the multi-level regression analyses of data from the European Social Survey 2004, we show that while most of the European heterosexual couples live in coherent egalitarian configurations of values and practices in their pre-parental phase, they shift to a situation of tension between egalitarian values and gendered practices following the births of their first children. In addition, the magnitude of this shift is strongly moderated by welfare policies. In liberal regimes, the tension between values and practices is transformed into an enduring accommodation to inequality, whereas in socio-democratic regimes, change to unequal practices is rarer and reversible.


Men's Work Efforts and the Transition to Fatherhood

Nan Marie Astone, Jacinda Dariotis, Freya Sonenstein, Joseph Pleck & Kathryn Hynes
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2010, Pages 3-13

In this paper we tested three hypotheses: (a) the transition to fatherhood is associated with an increase in work effort; (b) the positive association (if any) between the transition to fatherhood and work effort is greater for fathers who are married at the time of the transition; and (c) the association (if any) is greater for men who make the transition at younger ages. The data are from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. The transition to fatherhood was associated with an increase in work effort among young unmarried men, but not for married men. Among married men who were on-time fathers, work effort decreased. Among childless men, the marriage transition was associated with increased work effort.


Effects of Welfare Participation on Marriage

Julien Teitler, Nancy Reichman, Lenna Nepomnyaschy & Irwin Garfinkel
Journal of Marriage and Family, November 2009, Pages 878-891

We investigated the widely held premise that welfare participation causes women to refrain from marriage. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,219), we employed an event history approach to study transitions to marriage among mothers who have had a nonmarital birth. We found that welfare participation reduces the likelihood of transitioning to marriage (hazard ratio is 0.67, p <.01), but only while the mother is receiving benefits. Once the mother leaves welfare, past receipt has little effect on marriage. We infer that the negative association between welfare participation and subsequent marriage reflects temporary economic disincentives rather than an erosion of values.


Welfare Exit, Marriage, and Welfare Recidivism: A Reevaluation of Patterns of the 1980s and 1990s

Tracy Roberts & Steven Martin
Population Research and Policy Review, forthcoming

We examine the relationship between marriage and welfare recidivism for women leaving a first welfare spell, using the 1979-2000 panels of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). Previous studies have found that women who marry around the time of welfare exit have lower rates of welfare return than women who stay single. However, more marriages occur before or after welfare exit than occur at the time of welfare exit. We find that marriages that precede or follow welfare exit by more than 12 months are not associated with significantly lower rates of welfare return. We also confirm previous findings that marriages formed within a year of welfare exit are associated with reduced rates of welfare return. However, these reduced rates mostly indicate later welfare returns rather than fewer welfare returns. Overall, our findings indicate a much weaker association between marriage and welfare independence than has been previously reported for this time period.

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