Demographic change, children's families and child support policy in the United States
J. A. Seltzer
This paper describes recent demographic trends affecting families in the United States and considers how these trends may alter the definition of "family." The paper focuses on trends that affect minor children's family experience. Demographic changes have increased the percentage of children for whom family membership and household membership do not coincide. As a result, rights to children and adults' responsibilities for children are less clearly defined now than in the past. This greater ambiguity affects child well-being because children's access to resources, both time and attention as well as material goods, depends on their ties to adults. U.S. family policies, such as the recent child support reforms, work against demographic trends by emphasizing biological over social ties and reinforcing the importance of biological parents' responsibilities to children.
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