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Families Beginning To Settle Down Change Slows For U.S. Families As Baby-Boomers Slow With Age

Despite a widespread belief that the American family is disintegrating, family patterns in the 1990s are showing much more stability than they were 10 years ago, according to a private study.

One reason: The baby boom generation has reached middle age.

The American family of the 1960s was a married couple with two or more children in which the husband was the sole breadwinner, says the study by the Population Reference Bureau.

The family of the 1990s “typically has only one or two children and both parents work outside the home,” it says. “Changing marriage and divorce patterns, the influx of married women into the labor force, the stagnation of men’s wages, and the aging of the baby-boom generation all have played a role in the transformation of the family.”

“Middle age is the time of life when family responsibilities come to the fore,” researcher Carol DeVita told a news conference.

One-third of families have children under 18, two-parent married couple families are on the increase and the average number of children women will have in their lifetime now is 2.0, the highest since 1972, she said.

“The major changes in the family structure are probably past,” DeVita said.

California, of course, remains by far the most populous state with 31.6 million residents. Texas has assumed second place with 18.7 million, edging New York with 18.1 million. The rest of the top 10 in order last year were Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey and Georgia.

Wyoming is the least populated.