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The facts have voted, the issue is settled, and Paycheck Mommy is now a central organizing principle of the modern American family.
The share of mothers employed full or part time has quadrupled since the 1950s and today accounts for nearly three-quarters of women with children at home.
The number of women who are their families’ sole or primary breadwinner also has soared, to 40 percent today from 11 percent in 1960.
If the Burnses seem atypical as an American nuclear family, how about the Schulte-Waysers, a merry band of two married dads, six kids and two dogs?Good friends join forces as part of the “voluntary kin” movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.Single people live alone and proudly consider themselves families of one — more generous and civic-minded than so-called “greedy marrieds.” “There are really good studies showing that single people are more likely than married couples to be in touch with friends, neighbors, siblings and parents,” said Bella De Paulo, author of “Singled Out” and a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “There are not just more types of families and living arrangements than there used to be,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of the coming book “Intimate Revolutions,” and a social historian at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.We marry, divorce and remarry at rates not seen anywhere else in the developed world. The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960, and last year hit its lowest point ever.We lavish billion a year on weddings, more than we spend on pets, coffee, toothpaste and toilet paper combined. When an informal sample of 52 Americans of different ages, professions and hometowns were asked the first thought that came to mind on hearing the word “family,” the answers varied hardly at all. At the end of the baby boom, in 1964, 36 percent of all Americans were under 18 years old; last year, children accounted for just 23.5 percent of the population, and the proportion is dropping, to a projected 21 percent by 2050.