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How Families Manage Work And Family Life Essay

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Updated: Sep 16th, 2019


This paper analyzes an article by Rodgers (2013) which shows the effect of recessions on family life. The article is, New Census Numbers Show Recession’s Effect on Families, and appeared on the New York Times, on 27 August 2013. Broadly, this paper analyzes the article by Rodgers (2013) from a racial point of view after connecting it with a study by Qian (2005), which shows the nature of interracial marriages in America.

Comprehensively, from the assessments of the works of Qian (2005) and Rodgers (2013), this paper shows that, even though economic conditions have significantly affected family structures, race still plays an important role in understanding the same social structures. However, before divulging the details of this finding, it is important to understand a summary of the works of Rodgers (2013).

News Article Summary

In his article, Rodgers (2013) explains that the 2007 recession decreased the size of households in America and increased the number of people who live alone. His article also shows that poor economic conditions decreased the number of households with married couples. However, despite the economic effects of the recession on households, Rodgers (2013) explains that the numbers of married couples differ significantly across all the races.

In detail, Rodgers (2013) says, about 81% of married couples are Asian, while only 44% of married couples today are black. The author also says 80% of white people (non-Hispanic) have marital relationships (Rodgers, 2013). Only about 62% of the Hispanic population also professes the same relationship. In part, these racial dynamics affect the way families survive in today’s harsh economic times

What Families need to do to Survive

Traditionally, the society assigned women domestic responsibilities, like homemakers. Comparatively, the society perceived men to be providers. However, since the industrial revolution, these roles have changed. The industrial revolution saw the emergence of women in the workforce (Holmes, 2003). Men retained their roles as providers, but women played a supplementary role in the same regard.

Decades after the industrial revolution, women have become more empowered. In this regard, they have shattered the traditional gender perceptions of men as providers and women as homemakers. In fact, it is common to find highly educated and well-paid women today. Rodgers (2013) explains part of the revolution of the family structure when he says economic conditions have significantly affected the structures of modern families.

Economic conditions perhaps present the most notable reason that informs why family structures have changed. For example, increased economic needs have made it impossible to rely on the income of one family member.

Many families have therefore resorted to involving many family members in supplementing family income. This need has especially seen more husbands and wives seek employment opportunities. However, this trend has led to more problems because the absence of parents in the family has created a significant challenge in family upbringing.

More specifically, the absence of parents has led to the emergence of a parental gap in the family (children have to live with extended family members, like grandmothers, or strangers, like nannies or house-helps). In the future, the absence of parents from the family is however going to be a persistent trend because this issue outlines the measures families have to take to survive in today’s demanding economic environment.

The Effect of Race

As mentioned in this paper, race is an important factor to consider in the understanding of family structures in modern society. From the same racial argument, several social, cultural, and economic issues manifest in this analysis. For example, the Asian culture often emphasizes the importance of family as the basic social unit (Khor, 2006).

Most Asians therefore try to uphold family values even in the wake of a demanding economic or social environment. Other cultures however operate from a different lens of analysis. For example, Cherlin (2013) says that in the American society (a predominantly white society), people often respect individualism, to the extent that family structures suffer as a result. From this assertion, Cherlin (2013) believes that the individualistic nature of the American society largely explains why there is a high divorce rate in America.

In the African-American population, different dynamics manifest. For example, many researchers propose that economic factors largely explain why there is a low marriage rate in African-American households, as outlined by Rodgers (2013). The same researchers have linked low socioeconomic status to the high rate of domestic violence within this racial group (Jones, 2001; Ballard, 2004). From this understanding, race explains several family dynamics that manifest in the society.

Nonetheless, race also affects work in different ways.

The huge disparities in employment rates (among different races) highlight a tip of the iceberg regarding this issue. For example, Jones (2001) says that there are relatively low percentages of college-educated African Americans in the US (compared to white people). Their relatively low education levels affect their ability to gain employment because most African Americans fail to secure gainful employment because of the lack of skills and qualifications to secure well-paying jobs (Ballard, 2004).

Furthermore, the few who are employed work in low-skill jobs, which equally have low income. From the low pay, many African American parents have to work two or more jobs to supplement the family income. Moreover, both African American parents (in two-parent families) have to work at the same time, thereby limiting the time they share with their children.

Partly, this phenomenon explains why there is a high level of absentee fatherhood within the African American population. Comparatively, because of the higher educational levels among whites, many parents make enough money to support their families. Therefore, in most white families, the income of one parent may easily support the family. One parent would therefore have the opportunity to stay at home with the children, as the other parent works.

Cultural values explain why there is a high rate of marriage and a high rate of educational achievement within the Asian community. Unlike the African American and white communities, most Asian societies emphasize the importance of marriage, more than other societies do (Khor, 2006).

In fact, in some Asian societies, such as India, arranged marriages still occur and women are under a lot of pressure from family members to get married. The same pressure may not exist for white or African American families. Moreover, in some Asian societies, divorce is uncommon (Khor, 2006). Therefore, there tends to be a higher population of married women within the Asian race.

The same cultural values explain the high rates of educational achievement among Asian students because many researchers say that most Asian societies have a lot of regard for educational achievement (Khor, 2006). For example, an article by Chua (2011) shows, Chinese mothers put a lot of pressure on their children to succeed, more than white mothers. Such cultural values explain why there is a high rate of educational achievement among the Asian community.

The nature of these cultural values also has a significant effect in the workplace because the high success rate in education translates to better jobs for Asians. Concisely, many Asians are able to secure skilled employment and enough family income to meet their needs. Coupled with increased social pressure to preserve their families, some Asian communities easily realize social and economic success.

Relation to Readings

The racial dynamics explained above inform economic and social dynamics in the society and affirm the findings of Rodgers (2013), which show that African-American populations report the lowest marriage rates. The same findings also show that white and Asian populations report among the highest marriage rates.

The high rate of marriages among Asian and white families also explains why both racial groups are more empowered economically because they enjoy the incomes of two members of the family, as opposed to most African-American families that have only one parent. Comparatively, in his analysis, Qian (2005) says, in America, the white population has a high integration, while African Americans and American Indians are the most segregated.


After weighing the findings of this paper, we see that family outcomes are dependent on racial factors. In detail, this paper shows that family well-being is a cycle informed by cultural factors. For example, this paper shows that high educational outcomes among white people explain why they have low unemployment rates and a high income.

Similarly, the low educational levels among African-Americans explain why they are mainly concentrated in low-skilled jobs and have a relatively low-income. By extension, the low incomes among African Americans explain why there is less social stability among such households – hence the high rate of single-parent families. The findings of Rodgers (2013) therefore do not largely differ from the findings of Qian (2005), which show that racial factors extensively affect family outcomes.


Ballard, A. (2004). The Education of Black Folk: The Afro-American Struggle for Knowledge in White America. New York, US: iUniverse.

Cherlin, A. (2013). Public and Private Families: An Introduction (7th Ed). New York, US: McGraw-Hill.

Chua, A. (2011). Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. Retrieved from

Holmes, J. (2003). Women managing discourse in the workplace. Women In Management Review, 18(8), 414 – 424.

Jones, L. (2001). Retaining African Americans in Higher Education: Challenging Paradigms for Retaining Students, Faculty, and Administrators. New York, US: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Khor, D. (2006). Lesbians in East Asia: Diversity, Identities, and Resistance. London, UK: Routledge.

Qian, Z. (2005). Breaking the Last Taboo: Interracial Marriage in America. Contexts, 4(4), 33-37.

Rodgers, S. (2013). New Census Numbers Show Recession’s Effect on Families. Retrieved from

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