Counting all the concubines

United States Census 2010

When you sat down to fill out the 2010 Census form, what category did you choose for your relationship to the household head? Did you choose “husband or wife”? Or maybe “stepson or stepdaughter”?  “Roommate”? Did it strike you as odd that you couldn’t choose “concubine,” or “polygamous wife”? Or, better yet, did you wonder why the form even requested your relationship status in the first place?

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Breadwinner Moms in Virginia: A closer look at unmarried mothers

Cohabiting Young White Couple

As mentioned in a previous post, much of the research and conversation about “breadwinning” mothers simplistically distinguishes between only two groups: married and unmarried mothers.  But there is a third group that is often not considered—women who are unmarried, but living with a partner.

Non-marital cohabitation is on the rise in the United States:  In 2009, the number of 30-44 year olds living in an unmarried (heterosexual) partnership was almost double what it was in the mid-1990s.  To more fully understand the economic status of Virginia’s mothers—to make the “breadwinning moms” story more precise—it is important to take a look at this third group.

In this post, “cohabiting mother” means any unmarried woman living with at least one of her minor children as well as a partner of either sex, while the term “solo” mother indicates unmarried mothers living without a partner.  I was able to identify this population of cohabiting Virginia mothers using data from the 2011 American Community Survey.*
 

Cohabiting mothers in Virginia

Cohabiting mothers represent about 4 percent of all Virginia mothers, and about 16 percent of unmarried mothers.   While this population is relatively small, it is worthy of notice for several reasons. Continue reading