Low-Income Urban Fathers and the “Package Deal” of Family Life

Kathryn Edin, Timothy Nelson, Joanna Miranda Reed

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter shows that the function of the romantic tie for the father role departs radically from the traditional 1950s "package deal" conception of family life. Furstenberg and Cherlin, and more recently Nicholas Townsend, point to the family behaviors of men who came of age in an earlier generation, arguing that for these men fatherhood flowed through, and was contingent upon, men's relationship with the children's mother. Economically disadvantaged fathers are far less likely to marry before having children than middle-class fathers are, and they have them far earlier. Furstenberg and Cherlin coined the term "package deal" to explain the very low rates of father involvement among the divorced fathers they observed. Low-income couples who marry before having children are fragile as well—much more so than middle-class married couples are—but they still function as partners for a considerable period of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInequality in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationA Reader
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780429968372
ISBN (Print)9780429499821
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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