Extended and Nuclear Families
Sociologists distinguish between extended and nuclear families based on the number of generations that live within a household. An extended family is a family unit composed of relatives in addition to parents and children who live in the same household. These families often include grandparents. uncles, aunts, or . other relatives who live close to the parents and children, making, it possible for family members to share resources. In horticultural and agricultural societies. extended families are extremely important; having a large number of family members participate in food production may be essential for survival. Today. ex- tended family patterns are found in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and some parts of Eastern and Southern Europe (Busch, 1990). With the advent of industrialization and urbanization, maintaining the extended family pattern becomes more difficult in societies. Increasingly, young people move from rural to urban areas in search of employment in the industrializing sector of the economy. At that time, the nuclear family typically becomes the predominant family form in the society. A nuclear family is a family composed of one or two parents and their dependent children, all of whom live apart from other relatives. A traditional definition specifies that a nuclear family is made up of a "couple" and their dependent children; however, this definition became outdated when a significant shift occurred in the family structure. A comparison of Census Bureau data from 1970 and 2005 shows that there has been a significant decline in the percentage of U.S. households comprising a married couple with their own children under eighteen years of age (see "Census Profiles: Household Composition"). Conversely, there has been an increase in the percentage of households in which either a woman or a man lives alone.