During the past few decades, the industria/employment structure of rural America has changed dramatically. The major causes of these changes have been technological developments which have reduced the human labor needs in the natural resources industries of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and mining. While employment in the natural resources industries has declined, the loss of these jobs has been offset by increased employment in the manufacturing and service industries. This paper explores the relationship between variations in the industrial structure of nonmetropolitan counties in the United States and several family structure variables. It was found that counties with larger proportions of their labor force employed in natural resources industries had fewer female-headed households, a larger proportion of children living in married-couple families, and higher fertility rates. In contrast, counties with high levels of employment in service and manufacturing industries had larger proportions of female-headed households, fewer children in married-couple households, and lower fertility rates. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication Date