Family life in the United States has drastically changed over the past half century. Marriage has become less common, divorce rates have risen, cohabitation has become the new norm, and childbearing outside of marriage is more prevalent than ever—all of which have contributed to the emergence of family complexity. Family complexity, with relationships and roles deviating from the simple nuclear family makeup, has a profound impact not only on the members of a family, namely the children, but also on public policy programs designed to support the wide range of families that now exist.
In this volume of The ANNALS, prominent scholars look at the various dynamics of today’s family complexity, focusing on families with minors. The articles present the context in which family complexity has developed and the factors that have increased its prevalence, provide evidence of how increasing changes in family composition are linked to income and poverty, and analyze the transforming roles and behaviors of parents, grandparents, and children. The authors also address the repercussions of family complexity on social and public policy, highlighting the need to enact effective policies and identifying areas that require further research.