Tag Archives: history

African American marital status by age, Du Bois replication edition

At the 1900 Paris Exposition, sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois presented some the work of his students. In The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology, Aldon Morris writes:

Du Bois’s meticulousness as a teacher is apparent in the charts and graphs that he prepared with his students. For example, as part of his gold medal-winning exhibit for the 1900 Paris Exposition, Du Bois and his students produced detailed hand-drawn artistically colored graphs and charts that depicted the journey of black Georgians from slavery to freedom.

Some of collection is shown in this post at the Public Domain Review (shared by Tressie McMillan Cottom yesterday); the full collection is online at the Library of Congress (LOC).

The one that caught my eye was this, showing marital status (“conjugal condition”) by age and sex for the Black population. I can’t find the source details in the LOC record, so I don’t know if it’s Georgia or national, but I presume it’s from tabulations of 1890 decennial census or earlier:


It’s artistic and meticulous and clearly informative, beautiful. So I tried to make a 2015 update to complement it. I used data from the 2015 American Community Survey via IPUMS.org, and did it a little differently.* Most importantly, I added two more conjugal conditions, cohabiting and separated/divorced. Second, I used five-year age groupings all the way up, instead of ten. Third, I detailed the age groups up to age 85. Here’s what I got:

du bois marstat replication.xlsx

Some very big differences: Much smaller proportions of African Americans married now. Also, much later marriage. In the 1900 figure more than 30% of men and 60% of women have been married by age 25; those numbers are 5-6% now. I don’t know how they counted separated/divorced people in 1900, but those numbers are high now at 31% for women and 24% for men at age 60-64. Widowhood is later now, as 42% of women were widowed before age 65 in 1900, compared with only 13% now (of course, that’s off a lower marriage rate, and remarried people are just counted as married). And of course cohabitation, which the chart doesn’t show for 1900. Note I included people in same-sex as well as different-sex couples.

So, thanks for indulging me. I hope you don’t think it’s frivolous. I just love staring at the old charts, and going through the (very different) steps of replicating it was really satisfying. (I also just love that in another 100 years someone might look back on this and say, “Wait, which one was Earth again?”)

Note: If you want to compare them side-by-side, here’s a go at that. The age ranges don’t line up perfectly but you can get the idea (click to enlarge):

* SAS code, ACS data, images, and the spreadsheet used for this post are shared as an Open Science Framework project, here.


Filed under Me @ work

Book review: Labor’s Love Lost by Andrew Cherlin

I previously wrote some comments about Andrew Cherlin’s most recent book here, in preparation for a launch event I attended. Here is a full review for submission to Contemporary Sociology.


Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in Americaby Andrew J. Cherlin. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2014. 258 paper. ISBN: 9780871540300.

Andrew Cherlin’s latest book is a concise history of U.S. family trends since the late 19th Century. The history builds a well-argued case for policies to improve family stability, to address the problems of children facing “the chaos of postmodern culture and the constraints of the hourglass economy” (p. 195). The book should serve as a staple in the debate over the causes and consequences family change, offering the most reasonable case for the downside of contemporary trends.

Cherlin frames the history around the post-War 1950s-1960s as a period of peak stability and conformity among working-class families, surrounded by periods of greater instability and inequality in the decades before and after. Peak conformity meant the smallest social-class gap in marriage rates between rich and working-class families, compared with the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, when rich people were much more likely to be married than those in working-class occupations. Cherlin sees the trend in the current period as perilous for children because family instability – concentrated among working-class families – is accompanied by high levels of income inequality and poor support for social mobility from institutions outside the family.

Thus, Cherlin argues, we should consider policies to “lessen the effects of the fall of the working-class family on children” by finding ways to “support stable partnerships without returning to the gender imbalances of the past” (p. 176). He favors policies that would disseminate cultural messages in favor of delaying childbearing, bolster education and training for working-class children and young adults, and raise incomes for those with less than a four-year college degree.

This book should be widely read and taught. It is compellingly written, making a sophisticated set of arguments with original evidence; I recommend it for undergraduate as well as graduate courses. Cherlin’s treatment of the “rise of the working-class family” in the industrial era is well-crafted and original. Especially welcome is the extensive discussion of gender norms and the “masculinity imperative” (p. 30) in the construction of the working-class family ideal. He has a non-superficial view of culture, and incorporates evidence from qualitative research and linguistic trends as well as Census data and economic trends. He also pays considerable attention to Black workers, from their historical emergence from slavery to the effect of declining blue-collar opportunities on their families after the post-War economic peak.

Cherlin’s treatment of the era of peak family conformity addresses the abuse, alcoholism, and women’s alienation that are too-often swept under the rug in accounts that privilege family stability and draw not just from historical nostalgia but “male nostalgia” (p. 92). That includes a revealing and enlightening description of his own family upbringing (he was born to White, working-class parents in 1948), in which his father was happy but his mother – whose abilities were underutilized during her time out of the labor market, and who was prescribed opiates to treat allergies – probably was not. But in the end he had a “happy childhood” (p. 99), and his conclusion about the era returns to the privileging of stability: “All things considered, children received good upbringings in these [1950s] families and experienced stable, two-parent environments while growing up” (p. 100). In the decades that followed, marriage become less common, and less stable, for people with less than a four-year college education, in what Cherlin calls the “fall of the working-class family” (which, as he notes, undermined the very notion of social-class identity for families as opposed to individuals).

Cherlin concludes that the 1950s “was a good era for children,” who “benefited from this familistic culture” (pp. 115-116). But the evidence we have for this is based on the fortunes of a generation which, although born to those families, turned against their norms as adults, riding a wave of prosperity into the women’s movement and abandoning universal early marriage, shotgun weddings, and enforced domesticity. It is ironic that so many people (Cherlin is certainly not alone here) attribute the success of the Baby Boom children to a style of upbringing that they themselves largely rejected at the first opportunity.

Cherlin ably represents the growing chorus of social scientists concerned that poor and working-class parents today are “creating complex and unstable family lives that are not good for children” (p. 5). To his credit, Cherlin’s prescriptions for improving family stability mostly focus on education and the labor market, but the stated goal is the promotion of family stability. Why? For all the research into effects of family instability on children, we know that this factor is not more decisive than its economic precursors; that is, it’s more valuable to have one or more parents with adequate education and income (regardless of their marital status) than it is to have stably married parents, many of whom are time-and resource-poor in our economic and policy environment. This point of contention is important because Cherlin’s case for aiming interventions at family stability – which have, as he acknowledges, no record of success – assumes that the parameters of our stingy and ineffective welfare system are constant.

Cherlin makes a strong case for economic policy to promote employment and wage growth, expanded access to education at all levels, and institutional reforms such as financial regulation and a higher minimum wage. Absent from this discussion, however, is any consideration of our welfare system, including any treatment of family leave policy, child tax credits, guaranteed basic income, or access to health care – all part of the current (albeit lopsided) policy debate. There are a lot of proven policy levers to mitigate the effects of family change. Given this range of options, it is unclear why, even as Cherlin records the abject failure of marriage promotion programs, he nevertheless believes “the message of pregnancy postponement may be worth trying,” in conjunction with efforts to improve the labor market at the low end (p. 183).

In conclusion, Labor’s Love Lost is an important, valuable book, from which many sociologists and their students can learn, and over which many fruitful arguments should emerge.


Filed under Research reports

Justice for Sterilization Victims update (survivor edition)

I’ve written several times about the effort to provide compensation to the victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program, which is estimated to have forcibly sterilized 7,600 people over the years 1929-1974. Here’s an update and some of the previous posts, with links updated.

Eventually, the state did set up a $10 million fund for compensation, and provided a way for survivors to file claims. The deadline for filing claims with the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims was June 30, and the agency reports they got 780 claims, of which so far about 180 have qualified for compensation, with 200 more still under review. People who died while the state dragged its feet setting up the process — or their surviving families members — will get nothing. Probably more than half of the victims have died.

No family for you (posted 2011)

North Carolina’s eugenics program was the subject of hearings this week, dragging on with no compensation for the living victims. A collection of literature at the state’s North Carolina Digital Collections includes this 1950 propaganda pamphlet:

What for sterilization victims? (posted 2010)

North Carolina has named an executive director of the N. C. Justice for Victims of Sterilization Foundation, Charmaine Fuller Cooper. Upon her nomination, she said [link lost]:

“I’m excited about this opportunity and see it as a turning point to bringing justice to so many families and individuals affected by this tragic moment in North Carolina history.”

Moment? From 1929 to 1977, as part of the state’s contribution to the Eugenics movement, they sterilized 7,600 people, nearly four-fifths of them after WWII, according to this state report.

About half the victims of the sterilization campaign have already died. Then-Gov. Mike Easley apologized in 2002, and now-Gov. Perdue campaigned on the pledge to compensate the victims. And yet no one has been compensated, although the state’s new foundation got $250,000 to get started. A bill to give victims $20,000 each stalled last year.

Many of the the victims, more than half of whom were Black, were institutionalized, supposedly for mental retardation, illness, or whatever — although many were simply poor, uneducated or orphaned. (Here’s a historical study of those sterilized in institutions.) Although compensation has yet to reach the victims, the state has at least owned up to the travesty, which is documented in this good digital repository at the State Library, including a pamphlet from the Human Betterment League of North Carolina:

North Carolina has an interesting profile with regard to historical travesties and crimes against humanity. The casual immigrant to the American South might be surprised that compared with, say, Germany’s official attitude toward the Holocaust, there is little in the way of official recognition that the Confederacy was wrong in the Civil War. For example, the monuments to those who fought for “their country,” the Confederacy, remain on display – like this one at UNC, which honors students and alumni who contributed to that cause:

In Germany, the old Nazi Party and some of its descendants were banned, but U.S. organizations dedicated to preserving the honor of war criminals are allowed to flourish. (I’m for state-protected free speech, just not state-sponsored monuments to the Confederacy.)

On the other hand, we’ve seen some notable symbolic efforts beyond the sterilization issue. The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission at least produced a comprehensive report on the White establishment’s coup against the local government at the end of Reconstruction. And the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission has produced a report on the attack by Klansmen on communist anti-racism activists. And legally, North Carolina is virtually alone in its official willingness to consider actual innocence claims when new evidence emerges after criminal convictions [for now, anyway].

For historical crimes, compensating the victims matters. Symbolism matters, too.


Filed under Uncategorized

Teachers might help students finish high school

In Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond presents a story of world history in which the rise to power of some societies over others was driven by geographic and environmental dynamics.

Some of the stories involve simple chains of evidence like this: societies with more fertile territories settled down earlier and had greater population density, which led to more complex politics, including elites who controlled surpluses and then diverted resources to non-food producers such as artists, craftspeople and bureaucrats, resulting in the development of more advanced language and technology.

We rarely have such large-scale analyses of current social dynamics. One reason contemporary analyses is so much more complicated is because the variations involved are much more subtle and the time frames are much shorter. For example, trying to explain women’s market labor force participation rates that mostly vary between 70% and 85% across rich countries. Or looking at small, marginal effects that tell us something interesting without explaining what really drives the larger outcomes. For example, I found that 34% of mothers with girls named pink or purple as their favorite color, compared with 45% among those with boys — a subtle effect on a minor personality trait. Similarly, we learned recently that boys with sisters are more gender-traditional. But the effect is within a narrow range, and certainly smaller than other more fundamental determinants of gender attitudes.

As I listened to the audio version of Diamond’s book, I tried to imagine how he might describe some recent changes in the U.S., treating differences between states over recent decades as the outcome of such fundamental processes. Here’s one thing I think he might have said:

Those states that assigned greater numbers of people to the task of teaching children more rapidly produced populations with higher levels of education. In half a century, states tripled the number of teachers per student from about 5 per 100 to about 15 per hundred. As a result the percentage of young adults dropping out of high school fell by about half, from near 60% to about 30%.

Here is my figure, plotting teachers per student (age 6-14) against dropout rates (age 16-24) 10 years later:

teachers per kid and dropouts

Source: My analysis of Census data from IPUMS.org.

Is that a fair characterization of the history? Or does it overwrite fundamental variation or complexity and lead to the wrong story?

I want more simple stories, and I would also like them to be true.


Filed under In the news

Women’s Employment and the Decline in Marriage Are No Longer Related

Originally published on TheAtlantic.com.

For a few decades, women’s rising share of the workforce probably led to fewer women getting married. But that’s not the case anymore.


It is common knowledge—and true—that marriage rates are falling and unmarried parenting is becoming more common (nicely illustrated here). On the other hand, it is also common knowledge—but not true—that women’s employment rates have continued to rise in the last two decades (as illustrated here.)

In the long run of history, there is little doubt these trends are related: As women’s economic independence increased with better job opportunities, marriage became more optional and fewer women got (or stayed) married. But in the medium run, on the scale of a few decades rather than long eras, it’s not that simple.

Here are the trends in marriage and labor force participation for women using U.S. Census data going back to 1900.


Source: My analysis of Census data from IPUMS.

In the long run of the past 111 years, there certainly are more employed women and more single women. But the trends only moved strongly in the same direction for the three decades from 1960 to 1990, when the percent of women not married more than doubled from 18 percent to 43 percent and the percent in the labor force almost doubled from 41 percent to 76 percent. In the last two decades labor force participation has frozen while the percent not married has jumped another 7 points.

Here is the trick: Despite the real connection between non-marriage and employment—in which women don’t feel as strong a need to be married if they are employed—the lion’s share of rising employment has been among married women. Women’s employment opportunities made non-marriage more viable but also changed marriage. As the employment rates of married and non-married women grew more similar, the decline of marriage has made less of a difference to the total employment rate. Moving women from married to single doesn’t do much anymore. Here are the employment trends:


The American Stall
So we need to understand the stalled rise in employment because it may be the key to understanding progress toward gender equality generally.

In a previous post I suggested that stalled progress resulted from feeble work-family policy, anti-feminist backlash, and weak anti-discrimination enforcement. A recent analysis by economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn lends support to the first: work-family policy. Economix writer Catherine Rampbell highlighted the paper, which tracked employment rates over 22 wealthy countries for two decades. During that time, U.S. women fell from sixth to 17th in labor force participation rates—rising just one percentage point while women in the average country increased 12 points.

Here are the labor force participation rates for the 22 countries for 1990 and 2010. Dots to the left of the blue line show countries where women’s labor force presence increased; dots to the right show decreases. At the extreme, for example, Ireland saw a jump from 45 percent to 72 percent.


Source: My chart from the Blau and Kahn paper.

What happened? One big change was the advance of several work-family policies. The average number of weeks of guaranteed parental leave increased from 37 to 57 in these countries, with the U.S. adding only a 12-week rule under the Family Medical Leave Act (covering only half the workforce). The average country on this list now provides a guaranteed 38 percent of parents’ wages while they’re on leave, while the U.S. provides none. Seven of the countries now protect a right to part-time work, and three-quarters guarantee equal treatment for part-time workers. Public spending on child care as a proportion of GDP increased by more than a third outside the U.S., and the average country now spends more than four-times as much as the U.S.

Together, based on the experience of these countries, Blau and Kahn estimate these changes account for more than a quarter of U.S. women’s slippage relative to other countries. That’s not everything, but it’s a substantial bite. If we had kept up with the average country’s policies, U.S. women would have had an 82 percent labor force participation rate, putting them at 11th on the list instead of 17th.

On the Other Hand
Not all work-family policies are the same. One way to divide them is between those that protect time out of paid work (parental leave, part-time protections) and those that protect time in paid work (especially state-supported childcare). As Blau and Kahn note, U.S. women have much lower rates of part-time work than those in most other rich countries, but we also have higher rates of women in professional and managerial jobs. That might be because employers in those countries are reluctant to hire or promote women who are expected to take time out of the labor force when they have children—which is exactly the goal of some of our low-fertility peer countries. How, and whether, such policies can improve family life while also promoting gender equality is the subject of a rich debate—which unfortunately remains in the realm of the hypothetical here in the U.S.


Filed under Research reports

The best they’ve got for DOMA?

The big news last week was the Obama administration’s historic throwing under the bus of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The President already had made clear where his heart lies on homogamous marriage rights, and the administration already was undermining the law, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing homogamy as practiced in the states. But the brief they handed the Supreme Court last week in the DOMA case U.S. v. Windsor still broke ground in arguing that laws infringing on the rights of gays and lesbians should be scrutinized as if those groups constitute a minority to be protected — in other words, that the government needs a very good reason to discriminate against them — and that DOMA could not withstand such scrutiny.

But in my catching up on the case, what floored me was the brief by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives, who are left with the sorry job of defending DOMA sans assistance from Obama. We have known for a while that the intellectual bullpen is getting a little thin on the anti-homogamy side, epitomized by the tossing-out of David Blankenhorn’s claim to expert status in the anti-gay marriage California Proposition 8 case. But I didn’t realize they had slipped this far.

This is the argument that got me: the government has to support straight (heterogamous) marriage — and straight marriage only — because that is the only way to ensure that straight people’s tendency to carelessly produce children doesn’t result in lots of children living on welfare (or worse).

If homogamy becomes legal, who will care for the orphans?

If homogamy becomes legal, who will care for the orphans?

Here is an excerpt:

The link between procreation and marriage itself reflects a unique social difficulty with opposite-sex couples that is not present with same-sex couples — namely, the undeniable and distinct tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended pregnancies. Government from time immemorial has had an interest in having such unintended and unplanned offspring raised in a stable structure that improves their chances of success in life and avoids having them become a burden on society. … Particularly in an earlier era when employment opportunities for women were at best limited, the prospect that unintended children produced by opposite-sex relationships and raised out-of-wedlock would pose a burden on society was a substantial government concern. Thus, the core purpose and defining characteristic of the institution of marriage always has been the creation of a social structure to deal with the inherently procreative nature of the male-female relationship. Specifically, the institution of marriage represents society’s and government’s attempt to encourage current and potential mothers and fathers to establish and maintain close, interdependent, and permanent relationships, for the sake of their children, as well as society at large. It is no exaggeration to say that the institution of marriage was a direct response to the unique tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended offspring.

Although much has changed over the years, the biological fact that opposite-sex relationships have a unique tendency to produce unplanned and unintended offspring has not. While medical advances, and the amendment of adoption laws through the democratic process, have made it possible for same-sex couples to raise children, substantial advance planning is required. Only opposite-sex relationships have the tendency to produce children without such advance planning (indeed, especially without advance planning). Thus, the traditional definition of marriage remains society’s rational response to this unique tendency of opposite-sex relationships. And in light of that understanding of marriage, it is perfectly rational not to define as marriage, or extend the benefits of marriage to, other relationships that, whatever their other similarities, simply do not have the same tendency to produce unplanned and potentially unwanted children.

Is this really where we are, in legal history? Are they really still arguing that in the face of fathers abandoning their bastard children, the state’s response is to shore up marriage? Have they not noticed the millions of children born to straight parents who aren’t married, the decades-long demonization of “deadbeat dads,” the IVF, gay/lesbian couples, adoptions, and countless other family innovations in the last half century?

I’m open to suggestions for why this is anything but laughable as a legal argument against gay and lesbian marriage rights. I suppose you could use this argument against the rights of unmarried people to have children, but why, then, I wonder, did the government go to all that trouble to prevent unmarried people from acquiring birth control? Do they realize that implementing their vision also requires prosecuting adulterers and repealing no-fault divorce?

I expect anti-homogamy arguments to be hateful, or at least mean-spirited. And I recognize that this passage is just one part of a lengthy legal argument that I couldn’t stomach reading further. But this just reinforces my previous conclusion that there’s nothing left to argue over rationally.


…to my fellow college teachers: How many papers have you graded with unsourced phrases such as, “Government from time immemorial…”, and, “the institution of marriage always has been…” I wouldn’t automatically give such a paper a ‘C’ or worse, but it’s an uphill climb out of failing-grade range from that passage forward. (For real histories of marriage — which belie such ridiculous historical claims about the olden days — I recommend Marriage: A History, by Stephanie Coontz; and Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, by Nancy Cott.)

…to people who write for law reviews: I’ve been working on the edits of my forthcoming article in the Boston University Law Review, which I had the privilege of writing after presenting at their law school’s conference on The End of Men. I’m super impressed by the detailed editing the piece is getting — for example, they seem to be physically checking books out of the library to verify — and back up — my references. I can’t imagine they would have tolerated such slipshod writing as what the BLAG has produced here.


Filed under In the news, Politics

Harriet Presser

Harriet Presser has died. In this post I include the death notice from the Washington Post, as well as some remarks I prepared for the award ceremony at which the Family Section of the American Sociological Association honored her with the Distinguished Career award in 2009. And then a few personal comments.

Harriet Presser in a 2004 photo from the Harvard University Gazette, as she delivered a lecture there.

This death notice appeared in the Washington Post on May 6.

On May 1, 2012, Harriet B. Presser passed away with her daughter, Sheryl, and Harriet’s partner of 32 years, Phil Corfman, by her side. Harriet was a distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work helped transform the field of demography by bringing a gender perspective to bear on the study of fertility and family processes. She was elected President of the Population Association of America for 1989. The Association named an award in her honor in 2008, to be given to recognize career contributions to the study of gender in demography. In 2010 she was awarded the American Sociological Association’s Jessie Bernard Award for work that “enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society”. At Maryland, she had founded the Center for Population, Gender and Social Inequality, and was awarded the Dean’s Medal for meritorious service to the college. A service was held in New York on Friday, May 4, 2012 at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel. In early summer, Sheryl and Phil will hold a service in celebration of Harriet’s life in Rockville. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the graduate student Fellowship Fund that Harriet had established. Checks should be made out to the University of Maryland College Park Foundation with Harriet B. Presser Fellowship Fund, Account #: 21-40452 in the memo line, and sent to: University of Maryland College Park Foundation Inc., Office of Gift Acceptance Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, College Park, MD 20742

In my 2009 remarks, I focused on Harriet’s contributions to family sociology. This is what I prepared, with some links added:

On behalf of my colleagues on the Family Section’s Distinguished Career Award Committee – Bill Marsiglio, Karin Brewster, Michelle Budig, and Michael Rosenfeld – it is my distinct privilege and high honor to announce that Harriet Presser is the winner of the 2009 Distinguished Career Award from the Family Section of the American Sociological Association.

Harriet Presser is one of the preeminent researchers in the area of sociology now known as Gender, Work and Family. But it was in fact her work that helped to define that area, to shape that research agenda from the 1970s to the present day. As David Maume wrote in Contemporary Sociology, she “examined the poor fit between work and family obligations long before the idea of work-family conflict entered academic and public discourse.”

Harriet received a Masters degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. from Berkeley. Her first faculty appointment was in Public Health at Columbia, and her early work concerned fertility and family planning, birth control and sterilization, which was the subject of her dissertation on Puerto Rico. A review of her many published articles shows a path from teen motherhood and pregnancy to work and family, focusing on welfare, work and family formation. She also studied child care challenges for working women and families. Her institutional contributions include an instrumental role in the early Census Bureau data collection on child care, in the 1977 Current Population Survey – and in the Census Bureau’s decision to drop the concept of “head of household” from its surveys (which is itself a great story of life at the intersection of feminism, bureaucracy and demography in the 1970s).

In 1983 she had the rare distinction among sociologists of publishing an article in the journal Science – on the issue of shift work among dual-earner couples. The high rates of shift work among spouses with children had gone largely unnoticed as women’s labor force participation increased. The nurses, waitresses, sales workers and telephone operators of the 1970s and 80s were on the leading edge of the nascent 24-hour economy that would reshape modern family life. For example, these were the first families in which large proportions of men were the primary caretakers for their young children. In fact, viewing career trajectories and strategies from a couple perspective was one of the many research innovations for which we have, in part, Harriet to thank. With a clearness of thought and a prescient view of social trends, with which her work is riddled, at the end of that article in Science she sketched out a research agenda that read in part, “what are the motivations for shift work among couples with children? What is the quality of child care in shift work households? … what are the quality and stability of marriages among shiftwork couples compared with others? What is the distinctive effect of shift work on the division of labor within the home and nonmarital power? Is the effect of female shiftwork on family life different from the effect of male shiftwork?” In fact, each of these questions has become the subject of important research as we attempt to come to terms with the simultaneous effects of the growing service economy, dual earner couple employment, cultural trends in parenting and, always, struggles for gender equality at work and at home.

The subject matter of Harriet’s research was influenced by her own experience going to college at night while trading off child-care shifts with her then husband, in the 1950s. Her feminist orientation drew from her experience as well, including a run-in with my own department, which was not uniformly supportive – shall we say – of a divorced young mother’s academic ambitions.

In the subsequent years Harriet built a career for herself at the University of Maryland, serving as the founding director of its Center on Population, Gender, and Social Inequality in 1988, now the Maryland Population Research Center. She became a Distinguished University Professor. She was the 7th woman out of 53 presidents of the Population Association of America, in 1989, and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Last year, an award was established in her name by the PAA, to honor scholars with distinguished careers in research on gender and demographic issues.

This is a small sampling of her many research activities, leaving aside her countless contributions to the universities, professional associations, advisory boards, study panels and journals that make possible so much of our work. And the students whom she has advised along the way. In recognition of the use contributions and achievements, we are delighted to name Harriet the winner of the Distinguished Career Award.

[Some of the information here comes from a 1989 interview conducted by Jean van der Tak, then historian of the Population Association of America, available as part of an archive at San Diego State University.]

* * *

Yesterday I led the last meeting in the Gender, Work and Family course at Maryland, a seminar that I took with her in 1996, when I was a graduate student in sociology here. Looking back over the papers I kept from that year, I remember how supportive of my efforts in that seminar she was. My paper for her led to the publication of an article in Gender & Society which has become my most cited sole-authored piece. (She didn’t believe the article should be published because it pushed the data too far — so I was lucky to have her as a teacher instead of a reviewer. In fact it is more influential for the issues it raises than for the answers it provides, which is a testament to what I learned in the seminar.)

Anyway, I came across this snippet, which reminded me of her, and her influence on me: I don’t want to write phrases that would draw an “ugh!” from her even now.

Instead, I wish I could have one more of these:

Addendum: There is now a page for Harriet on Wikipedia.

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