Women and Household Structures

Creation Year
Thursday, January 1, 2015 - 12:00
Year of most recent data
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 12:00

Donald Arwood, South Dakota State University

Learning Goals


  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Quantitative writing
  • Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Identifying population trends over time
  • Forming testable hypotheses using quantitative data


  • The first exercise explores data on the DataCounts! site.
  • The second exercise uses WebCHIP to (1) demonstrate that the trend in family types is actually occurring; (2) find out if there is a relationship between family type and poverty; and (3) see if that relationship held over time.
  • The third exercise will use look at the relationship between the number of children present in the family and percent living in poverty for different kinds of families.
  • The fourth exercise allows you to develop and test hypotheses of your own.
Context for Use

This activity is used in an Population Problems sociology class class for undergraduate students. This activity explores topics of households/families and income/poverty to look at family trends over time.

You most likely learned in your introductory sociology classes that traditional mom-pop-children households in the United States are not as dominant as they once were. You may also have learned that the change was due in part to the increasing status of women and changes in customs and laws that made divorce less troublesome to obtain. And we all have known for quite some time that children in female-headed households have a much greater chance of living in poverty. While you do the exercises in this lesson, you will find data that look at some of these claims. In the next lesson, we will explore some of the demographic "causes" of the increase in the status of women-declines in both mortality and fertility and an increase in urbanization.

Teaching Notes and Tips

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