American Family Myths: Still Not True

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Norman Rockwell plates at a garage sale in Oakland.

Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (Basic Books, 2016), updates her classic debunking of the history of self-reliance and family structures, myths that still resonate on the campaign trail.

Listen above for the answers to several "true or false" scenarios about family myths, including:

  • When a woman marries a less educated man, it’s a risk factor for divorce. (Was once True, now False)
  • Women who marry for the first time at an older age than average have a heightened risk of divorce. (True until 1994, now False)
  • Men report lower levels of work-family stress than women. (in the early 70s they reported lower levels, but that's now False)
  • Couples who share housework and childcare equally have less sex and lower rates of marital satisfaction than couples with more traditional division of labor. (True until 1992/1994, now False)