Abstract

This article examines the evolution of the black extended family by documenting a black-white crossover in the proportions of unmarried adults living in complex households after the middle of the twentieth century. We demonstrate significant racial differences in the trends in complex household residence over the life course, characterized by far greater declines in complex living among whites, particularly at younger ages. In this context, the higher level of family extension that recent research has found typifies black families is both a relatively new phenomenon and one that is not just limited to single-parent families; it characterizes all ages, those with and without children, and men as well as women.

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