Last year I posted a list of blog pieces by subject, to help people teaching family courses generate ideas and discussion. Now my book is done and some of that material is in there. If you use the book for your class, we’ll give you all kinds of awesome teaching materials. But if you’re not using it (yet), here’s another list of blog posts to supplement your course. I hope this is useful whether you’re assigning the book or not, and even if you’re teaching something besides a family course.
This is organized according to my table of contents. Please let me know what works and what doesn’t, and offer your additional suggestions in the comments.
- What current demographic facts do you need to know? These 22 demographic data points are a good place to start. What else is necessary knowledge just to get through the day without being grossly misled or misinformed?
- High marks for Census: Describes the cultural shift at the Census Bureau that followed from Obama’s election and the decision to start counting gay and lesbian married couples. Also, a nice video they made explaining how a small error in a large population (mis-marking the sex box) can dramatically distort the number of a small population within it (same-sex couples).
- Millennial, save thyself: Are millennials in trouble because their ties to marriage, work, and religion are weak? It’s “kids these days” all over again. With some simple data analysis and trends.
- Marriage, since when? (New Pew report): Marriage trends look different depending on the date you choose to represent “then” versus now. The 1950s were a unique (although very important) period, so careful with those comparisons.
- Justice for Sterilization Victims updated (survivor edition): Will North Carolina compensate the survivors of its long-running eugenics sterilization program?
- ‘Parenting’ through the (only very recent) ages: The term wasn’t used to mean child rearing until 1952, and wasn’t used popularly until the 1970s. Is this related to rising parenting standards – which beget new expressions of inequality?
3. Race, ethnicity, and immigration
- Black is not a color: Black and White are social, not biological, classifications. So why do we treat the words as if they were just colors?
- Immigrant health paradox update: What can we learn from the surprisingly low infant morality rates of immigrants? Maybe healthier people migrate, but after a generation (or less) in the U.S., their advantage appears to erode.
- The world that Sabta made: My grandmother lived from 1913 to 2009, and came to the U.S. from Poland in 1921, the youngest passenger on the S.S. Ryndam. Hers is one of the great stories of the century, leaving a mark that goes well beyond her 50+ great-grandchildren.
4. Social class
- Percent describing themselves as “lower class” hits 40-year high: About 90% of Americans describe themselves as “working class” or “middle class,” with a few “lower” and a few “upper.” But the lower class is on the rise.
- To Prevent Poverty, Reduce the Penalty for Single-Motherhood: A short essay arguing for treating poverty, rather than family structure, as a policy priority.
- Sociology wedding sleuth (because you can’t make this stuff up): Flipping through the New York Times wedding section, you never know when you might find a bride and groom who both come from families with Southern counties named after them.
- Movie dimorphism udpate: How to Train Your Dragon 2 edition: Why do animated movies so often feature extreme size differences between the hands of male and female romantic characters? The latest post in a series (with links to actual hand-size data).
- Gender devaluation, in one comparison: Light truck drivers (almost all men) earn more than nursing assistants (almost all women). This post examines reasons, and comes up with gender itself.
- Op-Ed plus: Gender composition of college majors: Why are college majors still so segregated, and what does this have to do with gender inequality trends in general?
- Does sleeping with a guy on the first date make him less likely to call back? This conventional wisdom heaps shame on women. A closer look (at fake data) shows how it might not be true at all.
- Sexual minority counts: Can the big federal bureaucracies accurately measure sexual orientation and identity? They can do pretty well if they try. And the good news is they’re trying.
- Why I don’t defend the sex-versus-gender distinction: In the book I teach this distinction, but I don’t generally fight for it. This post has some history and links on the distinction, and some potential pitfalls. (Make sure you check the excellent debate in the comments.)
7. Love and romantic relationships
- Is dating still dead? The death of dating is now 50 years old, and its been eulogized so many times that its feelings are starting to get hurt.
- Online dating: efficiency, inequality, and anxiety: I’m skeptical about efficiency, and concerned about inequality, as more dating moves online. Some of the numbers I use in this post are already dated, but this could be good for a debate about dating rules and preferences.
- Is the price of sex too damn low? To hear some researchers tell it in a recent YouTube video, women in general — and feminism in particular — have ruined not only sex, but society itself. The theory is wrong. Also, they’re insanely sexist.
8. Marriage and cohabitation
- We can’t build our social system around marriage anymore: Marriage has declined in every state every decade since 1980. So what are you going to do about it?
- This “Supporting Health Marriage,” I do not think it means what you think it means: More than a billion dollars taken from the welfare program to promote marriage, and not a single healthy marriage to show it.
- Does gay marriage make straight men hate children? In the steadily losing battle against marriage equality, one of the more pernicious claims is that gay marriage threatens to turn all men against children.
9. Families and children
- Play, supervision and pressured parenting: On the historical change in how parents view their children’s play and safety concerns, with photos of historical and contemporary playgrounds.
- Let’s not panic over women with more education having fewer kids: It’s not “reverse Darwinism.” Education levels for women are rising, and birth rates for college-educated women are going up.
- When regular old mothers aren’t old-enough looking: The trend toward older mothers is confusing demographically, and the way the media illustrates it isn’t helping.
10. Divorce, remarriage, and blended families
- Silver linings divorce trend: Divorce rates were falling before the recession, but they fell a little faster when the crisis hit. Did the recession save some marriages?
- Hell in a handbasket, or the democratization of divorce? In many rich countries, divorce is spreading to more people with less education. Is this democratization, or decay? And what is the optimal divorce rate, anyway?
- That economists’ paper about gender inequality, marriage and divorce: An economics paper makes news with old data and theories. What does the sociology say about gender equality and divorce?
11. Work and families
- Fewer children, more employed women: International edition: Using data from 89 censuses over 4 decades in 29 countries, I track the relationship between the number of children a woman has had and her odds of being employed.
- How Can We Jump-Start the Struggle for Gender Equality? In this New York Times essay, I argue for paid family leave, reduced work hours, and public child care.
- What drives the rise of stay at home fathers? How you interpret the trend depends on how you define stay at home fathers. With the “hardcore” definition, stay at home mothers still outnumber stay at home fathers 24-to-1.
12. Family violence and abuse
- Getting beyond how the ‘Factual Feminist’ is wrong about the prevalence of rape: It’s not perfect, but if you had to pick a number it’s reasonable to estimate that one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime.
- Maybe the recession increased violence after all: Now it looks like there was a spike upward in violence during the years with men’s biggest increase in unemployment.
- Final proof there is no human tragedy Brad Wilcox will not exploit in order to promote marriage: Did he really just say that women should get married if they don’t want to be raped? (In fact, marriage and rape have both fallen a lot in the last few decades.)
13. The future of the family
- Tripping on tipping points: Minority births are now the majority. Is this a tipping point, a milestone, or a watershed? On the importance of accurately representing trends.
- Dependency futures: An NPR story (linked here) on retirement prompts a look at how US demographic trends may be moving toward a future with more old-age dependency.
- Marriage is declining globally: Can you say that? Yes, you can say that. But will it continue? We should be careful with predictions, but lots of demographic evidence suggests it will.