Michael J. Rosenfeld
Note: This is my homepage, which I maintain myself. The
information here is the most up-to-date. The sociology department
website also has a profile of me, but the information there is not
the most current.
a social demographer who studies race, ethnicity, and
family structure, the family's effect on children, and the history of the family.
I am interested in mate selection as a social as well as a personal process. See the description of my book, The Age of Independence,
I am currently working on:
* How Couples Meet and Stay Together, a longitudinal study of social
life in the US, funded by the National Science Foundation. The first
wave of the study was fielded in 2009. Public data, documentation,
and further information is available at the Stanford
Library's data distribution website. Links to news coverage
about the "How Couples Meet" study is below, under prior
media coverage. My first paper from this project, "Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary" was published in the August 2012 issue of the American Sociological Review. The How Couples Meet and Stay Together project has revolutionized our understanding of such topics as how couples meet, the role of technology and the role of family in personal relations, why couples stay together, and whether same-sex married couples stay together as long as heterosexual married couples do.
Selected Scholarly Publications (PDF format):
M. J. Rosenfeld. 2007. THE AGE OF INDEPENDENCE: Interracial Unions,
Same-Sex Unions and the Changing American Family. Harvard University
Press. Available (in paperback) now
from Amazon.com. You can also find the book, along with a selection
from the text and the index, at the Harvard
University Press website.
The Age of Independence
is a book which offers a new theory of family trends and social
change in the US. The argument revolves around the independent life
stage, a life stage which has emerged since 1960. Young adults experience
the independent life stage after they have left their parents' homes,
but before they have settled down to start their own family. During
the independent life stage young men and women go away to college,
travel, begin careers, and enjoy a period of relative social independence.
The rise of the independent life stage
has reduced parental control over the dating and mate selection
choices of their children. The decline of parental supervision and
control results in a sharp rise in interracial and same-sex unions,
the kind of unions that previous generations of parents were able
to prevent. Although most Americans and many scholars believe that
young adults are returning home to the parental nest in ever greater
numbers (a phenomenon the press has dubbed 'the boomerang effect'),
this widely held perception has it exactly backwards. In fact what
really distinguishes modern family life from previous eras is the
new independence (geographic, residential, and social) of young
adults from their families of origin.
very recently, individual level census data from the past had never
been available for scholarly analysis. What we knew about family
life in the past came from diaries, from the official records of
a few towns and churches, or from travel writers such as Tocqueville.
Now that we have individual level census records from 1850 through
2000, we are able to look into long term trends in family life in
a way that inevitably must cast some of our previous assumptions
aside. I use the newly available census data to describe the rise
of the independent life stage, and the sharp increase in the number
of interracial and same-sex unions in recent years. My analysis
of census data offers a new explanation for why the tumult of the
industrial revolution failed to produce an increase in nontraditional
unions: most families in the industrial revolution moved to cities
and factory towns together, so the basic structure of parental supervision
over young adults was maintained.
By placing the post-1960 family changes
in a long term historical and demographic context, I am able to
offer a new perspective on the dramatic recent diversification in
American family forms. I use in-depth interviews to explore the
life histories of families and couples, and to illustrate the role
that the independent life stage plays in social change.
Same-sex marriage is one of the most
divisive issues of our times. My book attempts to answer several
questions related to same-sex marriage. First, why now? Why has
the climate for gay rights in the U.S. changed so much in the past
few years? Second, what next? What do the historical precedents
and current demographic trends portend for the future of same-sex
marriage in the US?
The independent life stage has implications
beyond the rise of nontraditional unions, which after all are still
a small minority of all couples in the US. Because parents raise
their children with their future independence in mind, parents raise
their children differently, and these differences affect how we
all think about individual freedoms.
* A figure
and worksheet describing
the increasing percentage of American couples that are interracial,
by several definitions of interracial.
* A figure
describing the increasing number of interracial and same-sex couples
in the US.
* A figure
describing the decreasing support in the US for laws against interracial
* Figures on the phantom boomerang, describing the rise of independent living which is the opposite of the boomerang theory that is so widely believed. Now updated with new figures 4 and 5 showing the rise of solo living among men and women of all ages (but especially senior women).
Other Scholarly Publications:
| M. J. Rosenfeld, 2015. "Revisiting the Data from the New Family Structure Study: Taking Family Instability Into Account." Sociological Science 2: 478-501, includes supplemental tables. Since Sociological Science is an open access journal, no credentials or permissions are required to follow the link above.
| M. J. Rosenfeld, 2014. "Couple Longevity in the era of Same-Sex Marriage in the US," Journal of Marriage and Family 76(5): 905-918. Link to the journal website here. Supplementary tables are also available.
| M. J. Rosenfeld, 2012. "Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China by Judith Stacey" a review essay published online in Social Forces, find it here. doi: 10.1093/sf/sos104
| M. J. Rosenfeld and Reuben J. Thomas. 2012 American Sociological Review 77(4): 523-547 . "Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary." The official online version of the paper can be found at the ASR/ Sage publication website. This paper has been among the most read papers on the ASR website since its publication. Supplementary tables are available here.
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2010. "The
Independence of Young Adults in Historical Perspective."
in Family Therapy Magazine,
May/June 2010, Vol 9, Num 3, P. 17-19. Links to a typeset version
of the article coming soon.
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2010. "Nontraditional
Families and Childhood Progress Through School" in Demography,
Volume 47 (3): 755-775 (Copyright 2010 Population Association
of America, reprinted here with permission). See also the supplementary
table (summarizing prior small-sample studies of children raised
by same-sex couples) which is supposed to be available on Demography's
website as well..
* Because this paper
was at the time of its publication, the only paper in the literature which compared children raised
by same-sex couples to children raised by other types of families,
using large sample nationally representative data, this paper's
results were discussed in depth during the hearing phase of Perry
v. Schwarzenegger, Federal district court 2010 (the case which puts
the constitutionality of the anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8 on
trial). See link
to transcript of day 5 of the trial here. The judge
ultimately struck down Proposition 8, and after appeals, the Federal district court opinion was upheld by the Supreme Court, and same-sex marriage became legal in California once again.
* My paper on children raised by nontraditional families was subject to a comment in Demography (June, 2013) by Allen et al. My response (also in Demography, June, 2013) "Reply to Allen et al," Demography 50 (3) 963-969, is linked here, or here.
* The debate over how to interpret the 2000 census data with regards to progress of children raised by same-sex couples was renewed in the DeBoer v. Snyder Michigan (2014) same-sex marriage trial, where I appeared as a witness for the plaintiffs, and Allen and Price appeared as witnesses for the state defendants. Judge Friedman's Michigan decision is here. The Michign decision largely settled the issue of social science, children, and same-sex marriage for the courts. The DeBoer v. Snyder decision was overturned on constitutional grounds by the 6th Circuit. The Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell decision reversed the 6th circuit and affirmed the DeBoer trial decision, making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. More background documents from the DeBoer trial, including all expert affidavits, are here.
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2010. "Still
Weak Support for Status-Caste Exchange: A Reply to Critics"
American Journal of Sociology Vol 115 Number 4, Pages 1264-1276.
This paper is response
to articles by Gullickson and Fu, and by Kallmijn, in the same issue
of the AJS.
The debate centers around my 2005 AJS piece on status-caste exchange,
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2008. "Racial,
Educational, and Religious Endogamy in Comparative Historical Perspective",
Social Forces volume 87, issue 1, pages 1-32 (lead article).
Links to typeset version (electronic access necessary) at JSTOR. See also a technical appendix with additional analyses and tables and figures showing that the trend in educational endogamy in the US is relatively flat over time, and that different measures of educational endogamy yield divergent answers as to whether educational endogamy is slightly increasing or slightly decreasing over time in the US. The divergent trend directions depending on the specification of the measure of educational endogamy is a sign that the popular theory that holds that educational endogamy is increasing in the US rests on a shaky empirical foundation.
* In the front
matter of the journal, p.ii, Editor Francois Nielsen wrote the following:
"Occasionally I run across papers that not only present original
results but also have the scope, theoretical depth and integrative
quality to function as an effective review of an entire subfield.
A good example is the article by Michael Rosenfeld in this issue."
M. J. Rosenfeld. 2008. "Intermarriage."
In the Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society, Edited
by Richard T. Schaefer, pages 736-739. Sage Press. Copyright 2008
Sage Press, reprinted here with permission.
M. J. Rosenfeld. 2006. "Young
Adulthood as a Factor in Social Change in the United States."
Population and Development Review 32(1) 27-51.
(Copyright 2006, Population Research Council, Reprinted with Permission).
M. J. Rosenfeld and Byung-Soo Kim. 2005 "The
Independence of Young Adults and the Rise of Interracial and Same
Sex Unions" was the lead article in the American Sociological
Review 70 (4):541-562. The paper is also available through
this external link to Ingenta.
Also available are supplementary
tables for the paper, describing the the method for making 1990
and 2000 census samples of same sex couples more consistent, as well
as providing expanded tables of coefficients for some logistic regression
models summarized in Table 7 of the paper. Email me if you want a
copy of this paper. This paper was summarized and described as 'new
and noteworthy research' in the Fall,
2006 edition of the sociology journal Contexts, p. 11.
M. J. Rosenfeld. 2005. "A
Critique of Exchange Theory in Mate Selection." American
Journal of Sociology 110 (5) 1284-1325 (Copyright 2005, University
of Chicago Press, reprinted with permission). Additional tables, figures
and addenda for the paper are available as a separate appendix here.
used in tables 3-5 of the paper is posted here as an excel file. This
paper was the winner of the 2006 Roger V. Gould memorial prize
for the best paper in the AJS in the previous year.
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2002. Measures
of Assimilation in the Marriage Market: Mexican Americans 1970-1990
Journal of Marriage and the Family 64: 152-162 (copyright
2002 by the National Council on Family Relations, 3989 Central Ave.
NE, Suite 550, Minneapolis MN 55421. Reprinted with permission)
M. J. Rosenfeld, 2001. The
Salience of Pan- National Hispanic and Asian Identities in US Marriage
Markets Demography 38: 161-175.
(Copyright 2001 Population Association of America, Reprinted with
J. Rosenfeld, and M. Tienda, 1999. "Mexican Immigration, Occupational
Niches and Labor Market Competition: Evidence from Los Angeles, Chicago
and Atlanta, 1970-1990" Chapter 2 in Immigration and Opportunity:
Race, Ethnicity and Employment in the United States Edited by
Frank D. Bean and Stephanie Bell-Rose. New York: Russell Sage.
There are two ways to get this chapter: you can buy the book from
Russell Sage (search their website for publications here)
or you can Email me and I'll send you a PDF file.
M. J. Rosenfeld, 1997. Celebration,
Politics, Selective Looting and Riots: A Micro Level Study of the
Bulls Riot of 1992 in Chicago. Social Problems 44 (4):
483-502. (Copyright 1997
Society for the Study of Social Problems. Reprinted with permission)
Working Papers (PDF format):
Classes I teach:
Soc 26 N
|| "The Changing American
Family," a freshman seminar
Soc 46 N
|| "Race and Ethnic Identities,"
a freshman seminar
|| "The Family/ The
Changing American Family"