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Family is becoming “more important” in America

Writing in Forbes, Joel Kotkin argues that the American family, despite claims of its decline, "is becoming not less but more important".

Some facts that Kotkin marshals to establish his case:

  • "80 percent of Americans eventually get married, often after cohabitation"
  • "Since 1982 the number of those over 35 who give birth have more than tripled"
  • "According to social historian Stephanie Coontz, Americans are more likely to be in regular contact with their parents than in the past. Some 90 percent consider their parental relations close, and far more children are likely to live with at least one parent now than they were as recently as the 1940s"
  • "When people move, a 2008 Pew study reveals, they tend to go to areas where they have relatives"
  • "A recent Pew survey reveals that the number of households accommodating at least two adult generations has grown in recent years"
  • "Between 2000 and 2007, according to the Census Bureau, the number of people over 65 living with adult children increased by more than 50 percent"
  • "Three-quarters of 13-to-24 year olds, according to one 2007 survey, consider time spent with family the greatest source of happiness, rating it even higher than time spent with friends or a significant other"

One question is whether these trends are as clear-cut as Kotkin presents. Another is whether we should consider all of them positive; for example, you probably would not if they are driven by economic necessity.

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