Historical demography documents that mother-only families were more common among African Americans than among Euro-Americans early in the twentieth century. We find direct evidence that African American males in both first and higher-order marriages were more likely to have (re)married previously married women and were more likely to have (re)married women with children. This racial difference in (re)marital partner choice reduced the racial difference in the prevalence of mother-only families such that, in the absence of such remarriage choices, the prevalence of mother-only families in the turn-of-the-century African American population would have been even higher than has been reported. Remarriage in this period countered the various demographic, economic, cultural, and social-institutional forces that disproportionately destabilized African American marriages; it must be taken into account more fully by analysts concerned with racial differences in family structure.


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pp. 283-297
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2010
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