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As a result, 41 percent of babies are now born out of wedlock, a fourfold increase since 1970.

The trend is not demographically uniform, instead tracking the nation’s widening gap in income and opportunity.

The share of mothers employed full or part time has quadrupled since the 1950s and today accounts for nearly three-quarters of women with children at home.

The number of women who are their families’ sole or primary breadwinner also has soared, to 40 percent today from 11 percent in 1960.

If the Burnses seem atypical as an American nuclear family, how about the Schulte-Waysers, a merry band of two married dads, six kids and two dogs?

Or the Indrakrishnans, a successful immigrant couple in Atlanta whose teenage daughter divides her time between prosaic homework and the precision footwork of ancient Hindu dance; the Glusacs of Los Angeles, with their two nearly grown children and their litany of middle-class challenges that seem like minor sagas; Ana Perez and Julian Hill of Harlem, unmarried and just getting by, but with Warren Buffett-size dreams for their three young children; and the alarming number of families with incarcerated parents, a sorry byproduct of America’s status as the world’s leading jailer.

Also démodé is the old debate over whether mothers of dependent children should work outside the home.

The facts have voted, the issue is settled, and Paycheck Mommy is now a central organizing principle of the modern American family.

One big reason is the soaring cost of ushering offspring to functional independence.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class couple will spend 1,080 to raise a child to age 18.

We lavish billion a year on weddings, more than we spend on pets, coffee, toothpaste and toilet paper combined. When an informal sample of 52 Americans of different ages, professions and hometowns were asked the first thought that came to mind on hearing the word “family,” the answers varied hardly at all. At the end of the baby boom, in 1964, 36 percent of all Americans were under 18 years old; last year, children accounted for just 23.5 percent of the population, and the proportion is dropping, to a projected 21 percent by 2050.

Fewer women are becoming mothers — about 80 percent of those of childbearing age today versus 90 percent in the 1970s — and those who reproduce do so more sparingly, averaging two children apiece now, compared with three in the 1970s.

“Yes, I wear the pants in the family,” said Ana Perez, 35, a mother of three and a vice president at a financial services company in New York, who was, indeed, wearing pants.

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