Transitory Fatherhood and Stable Motherhood among White, Black, and Hispanic Americans
Michael Rendall, Pennsylvania State University
This study uses an age-independent Markov model to characterize gender differences in the dynamics of co-residential parenthood among white, black, and Hispanic Americans. This dynamic picture highlights the importance of transitions to and from alternate parenting structures, notably single-parent and mixed biological- and step-parent families. Men's transitory co-resident parenting roles outside intact two-parent families are contrasted with women's enduring co-residence with their biological children through the course of often frequent transitions between family structures. Surprisingly frequent entries to single-parent and alternative two-parent family structures are found for both men and women. This elevates the importance of gender differences in speed and mode of exit from these alternative family structures. Thus under a formal decomposition, single fathers' much faster exits account for two-fifths of men's much lower prevalence of single parenthood than women's, while men's lower likelihood of becoming a single parent when an intact two-parent family dissolves contributes only one-quarter.