Exploring Society By The Numbers

Diversity in Family and Household Patterns

Richard Bulcroft, Western Washington University


This module is designed to illustrate differences in family and household composition patterns for different groups based on race/ethnicity and social class. It also serves as a review of key methodological concepts introduced in the first part of the course.

Learning Goals

  • Review the Following Methodological Concept:
  • Relationships and Group Differences
  • Percentage Comparisons
  • Representativeness and Generalizability
  • Causality, Independent and Dependent Variables
    • Spuriousness, Control
  • Conditional Effects
  • Review Substantive Material:
    • Institutional vs. Analytical Definitions of the Family
    • Trends in Family and Household Formation in the United States
    • Sources of Race and Ethnic Differences
    • Originating Culture vs. Historical Experiences vs. Current Ecological Context
  • The Significance of Social Class
  • Feminization of Poverty

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Sociology class for undergraduate students. This activity explores topics of marriage, divorce, cohabitation, race/ethnicity, and income and poverty to look at diversity family trends over in the United States.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 155kB Mar24 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 140kB Mar24 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses three customized data sets; one made from combining census information from 1970-1990, one from the combining census information from 1950-1990 and one from the 1990 Census. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the datasest for the activity, see links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP see instructions here.


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References and Resources

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