Family structure refers to the configuration of family members in a household. In light of demographic changes in the United States over the past 50 years, the term family structure is typically used by social scientists to refer to one of the following arrangements: married-parent households, single-parent households, and cohabiting-parent households. Family structure is linked to child well-being and has implications for parents’ use of early care and education settings. This entry examines recent demographic changes in family structure in the United States, how family structure affects children, and implications for the use of early care and education.

Demographic Changes

Over the past 50 years, the marriage rate in the United States has seen a dramatic decline. In 1960, 72% of adults were married. By 2008, this ...

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