Updated for Spring, 2021


Sample questions for the in-class midterm exam. For remote teaching, The midterm will consist of three essay questions, two of which will be on this list and therefore will be knowable in advance. The assessment is open book, but your answers must be yours and yours alone. The ID questions will not be asked in a remote teaching, open book assessment.


Essays should explain causes and effects, rather than simply providing a laundry list. A careful explanation with a few detailed and carefully considered examples is always better than a long list of examples without sufficient explanation.


Potential Essay Questions:


1) What are the supposed advantages of marriage (compared to unwed parenthood and compared to divorce) for children and society? Use Wallerstein, Waite and Gallagher, and DePaulo. What are the limitations of the methodologies of each scholar’s methodology?


2) What are the racial differences in out-of-wedlock births, and what are the explanations for the differences? How has the rate of out-of-wedlock births changed since the Moynihan report?


3) Describe the feminist critique of the “traditional” (husband bread winner, mother home maker) family. How do proponents of the traditional heterosexual married nuclear family respond to the critique? Use Friedan, and Waite and Gallagher. What does the debate between Stacey and Popenoe add to the debate over feminism and the family?




Identifications. In three or four sentences, define the term and explain its significance.


1) Selection Bias


2) The Baby Boom


3) Birth Cohort


4) Functionalism


5) Sex Ratio


6) Incomplete Institutionalization of Step Parenthood


7) Gary Becker’s theory of economic specialization and marriage


8) Seneca Falls, 1848


9) The “Harvard-Yale Study” of female marriage chances


10) Matrifocal Family


11) Coverture