Evolutionary family sociology studies how genetic relatedness and psychological predispositions shape intimate relations. It approaches human families in comparison to other species and the history of hominid evolution. This chapter outlines the main assumptions and recent advances in evolutionary family sociology. The study of parenting and mating is of interest to both sociologists and evolutionists. Our understanding of couple relations, gender equality, and involved fatherhood, deepens as sexual selection theory is combined with family system theories. Grandparenting is another research field for which an integration between Darwinian theory and mainstream family sociology is underway. Questions of helping, conflicts, and kin lineages are central for such studies on cross-generational relations. The Darwinian perspective has focused attention on the effects of genetic relatedness on familial sentiment and behavior and also on the universal patterns characterizing family dynamics. Sociological insights have helped specify cases in which evolutionary predictions need elaboration in order to better capture the variety and complexity of human families.
Liana Fox, Florencia Torche, and Jane Waldfogel
This article reviews current research on intergenerational mobility, which indicates opportunity for children to move beyond their social origins and obtain a status not dictated by that of their parents. Mobility tends to be measured by the extent of association between parents’ and adult children’s socioeconomic status (measured by social class, occupation, earnings, or family income). Stronger associations mean more intergenerational transmission of advantage (often referred to as persistence) and less mobility, whereas weaker associations indicate less persistence and more mobility. The article begins with a discussion of theoretical and methodological approaches to measuring intergenerational mobility. Drawing on research in economics and sociology, it then examines the evidence on the degree of mobility and persistence as well as possible underlying mechanisms. Finally, it compares mobility in wealthy and developing countries and suggests directions for future research.
Christina M. Gibson-Davis
This article examines the interrelationships among poverty rates, inequality, and nonmarital family structures, focusing on households with a never-married parent, usually the mother, or with cohabiting parents. It first considers marriage and fertility patterns around the world and how these patterns exhibit characteristics of the so-called second demographic transition in which marriage and fertility have become increasingly disconnected. It then discusses the reasons why nonmarital families tend to be poorer than marital families and also why the correlation between poverty and nonmarital family structures does not causally explain between- or within-country variation in poverty rates. It also describes some methods for addressing high poverty rates among nonmarital household structures, arguing that policies other than marriage promotion would be far more effective at reducing poverty for nonmarital households. The article concludes with an assessment of some implications of nonmarital fertility for economic inequality.