Changes in Black Family Structure: Implications for Welfare Dependency
The American Economic Review, Vol. 73, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Ninety-Fifth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1983), pp. 59-64
7 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2013
Date Written: 1983
Female headship among black families long has been more pronounced in the United States in comparison with other ethnic groups. E. Franklin Frazier's classic study of the black family in the 1930's placed a distinct emphasis on the disproportionately high number of "urban Negro families with women heads." Frazier's work suggested that throughout the pre-World War II period almost one-quarter of black families were headed by women. In the mid-1960's, female headship among black families was the subject of Johnson Administration policy planner Daniel Moynihan's notorious characterization of the black family as enmeshed in a "tangle of pathology." But while the subsequent debate between disciples of Moynihan's "pathology-disorganization perspective" and the proponents of the "strength-resiliency perspective" raged, the proportion of black families with female heads has risen markedly. The proportion climbed from slightly less than 25 percent in 1965 to an astonishing more than 40 percent by 1980. Female headship also has grown among white families, but the rate of increase has not approached that among blacks. Between 1965 and 1980, the percent of white female-headed families rose from 9 percent to close to 12 percent.
Keywords: Exploring Black Welfare Dependency
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