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

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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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1823
Number of pages27
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Population Association of America.


  • Family
  • Marriage
  • Relative income
  • Wage labor


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