In virtually all cultures, the family is considered the basic societal unit. Because the U.S. Census Bureau provides the most comprehensive statistics available on families in America, this book uses its terms and definitions as they concern the American family. The Census Bureau conducts a nationwide population census every ten years. In addition, the Bureau gathers economic information and surveys state and local governments every five years. The Bureau completes more than a hundred annual surveys and publishes a wide variety of special reports each year.
The Census Bureau defines a family as two or more people related by blood, marriage, or adoption. To understand this definition of the family, one must first understand the terminology used by the Census Bureau to describe the wide variety of living arrangements in the United States. In gathering its statistics, the Census Bureau starts with the American "household"—a single housing unit occupied by a person or group of people. Group quarters, such as correctional institutions and nursing homes, are not counted as households.
The "householder" is the person in whose name the housing unit is owned, being purchased, or rented. A "family household" consists of a householder and one or more people who are related to the householder by blood, marriage, or adoption. A "nonfamily household" consists of a person living alone or living only with nonrelatives, such as boarders or roommates.
Family households are further divided into the traditional family maintained by a "married couple" and "other families" maintained by a male or female householder with no spouse present. These might include a single parent living with a child or children, siblings sharing a home, and any combination of relatives other than the householder's spouse.
Historically, families have accounted for the majority of all households, but that picture changed significantly during the latter half of the twentieth century. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2002 only 68% of households fit the bureau's definition of a family (with 52% constituting "family/married couples," 16% categorized as "other family," and 32% described as "nonfamily."
Americans began to live longer, marry later, or not marry at all, and had fewer children. Some married couples chose to remain childless. Since the 1960s an increasing number of couples chose to simply live together rather than formalize their union through marriage. Other individuals shared living space with roommates or boarders. More people who elected to remain single became parents through out-of-wedlock births, surrogate births, and adoption. Similarly, gay and lesbian couples established families. Divorce became more common and remarriage often created "yours-mine-and-ours" blended families. Adult offspring with personal or financial difficulties returned home to live with their parents. Grandparents looking forward to retirement sometimes found themselves raising grandchildren. Finally, increased longevity required some senior citizens to live with their children or other family members who could care for them. All of these factors contributed to the changing profile of the American family.
According to Census statistics, family households declined from 90% of all households in 1940 to 68% in 2002. There were 109.3 million households in the United States in 2002, about 74.3 million of which were family households. Of these, 56.7 million were designated "married couple" and 17.6 million were "other family" households in Census Bureau terminology. Another 34.9 million households fit the "nonfamily" category.
Census data show a decrease in the number of people living together in households over the past century. In 1900 the average household included 4.6 people. Between 1960 and 2002 the total number of households more than
|Households by size, 1960–2002|
|(Numbers in thousands)|
|Year||All households||One person||Two persons||Three persons||Four persons||Five persons||Six persons||Seven or more persons||Persons per household|
|rRevised based on population from the decennial census for that year.|
|sData for March 2001 and later use population controls based on Census 2000 and an expanded sample of households designed to improve state estimates of children with health insurance.|
|source: "Households by Size, 1960–Present," in Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2003 Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabHH-4.pdf (accessed July 16,2004)|
doubled from 52,799 to 109,297. During this same period, household size dropped 23%, from an average of 3.35 people per household in 1960 to 2.58 in 2002. The number of single-person households quadrupled. Three- and four-person families—couples with one or two children—remained relatively stable.
In 2002, Census data revealed that the percentage of six-person families was 19% lower than in 1960 and families with seven or more persons occurred 50% less frequently. (See Table 1.1.) Despite the smaller overall number of large families in 2000, the frequency of large families had begun to increase in 1989. Over the next twelve years, six-person families increased 20%, and families with seven or more persons increased more than 30%. (See Table 1.1.) This trend paralleled a growth in immigration during the same period.
immigration and larger household size. According to the Census Bureau's report The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2003, 36.6% of the foreign-born population in the United States arrived in the decade 1990–99. Another 13.6% of the foreign-born population entered the United States after 1999. Of foreign-born households, 25% included five or more people compared to 12.5% of native households. (See Figure 1.1.)
|Family size in foreign-born households by geographic origin of householder, 20031,2,3|
|(Numbers in thousands)|
|World region of birth|
|Foreign born||Europe||Asia||Latin America||Other areas|
|Household type and size||Number||Percent||Number||Percent||Number||Percent||Number||Percent||Number||Percent|
|–Represents or rounds to zero.|
|1Households with a foreign-born householder are defined as foreign-born households, regardless of the nativity of other household members.|
|2The majority of those born in 'Latin America' are from Mexico. Those born in 'Other Areas' are from Africa, Oceania, and Northern America.|
|3The data in this table do not include the population living in group quarters.|
|4Households in which at least one member is related to the person who owns or rents the house (householder).|
|source: "Table 3.4. Household Type among Foreign-Born Households by Size and by World Region of Birth of the Householder: 2003," in Annual Social and Economic Supplement: 2003 Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/foreign/ppl-174/tab03-04.pdf (accessed August 10. 2004)|
|Total all households||13,912||100.0||2,296||100.0||3,490||100.0||6,901||100.0||1,224||100.0|
|Seven or more people||540||3.9||11||0.5||87||2.5||419||6.1||24||1.9|
|Total family households4||10,700||100.0||1,529||100.0||2,641||100.0||5,698||100.0||832||100.0|
|Seven or more people||536||5.0||11||0.7||87||3.3||414||7.3||24||2.8|
|Total nonfamily households||3,213||100.0||768||100.0||849||100.0||1,203||100.0||393||100.0|
|Seven or more people||4||0.1||–||–||–||–||4||0.4||–||–|
The largest number of foreign-born residents came from Latin American countries, and they had the largest families with five or more people in 32.9% of family households. They were also the only foreign-born group with more than five people reported in nonfamily households. (See Table 1.2.)
other factors influenced household size. Changes in rates of fertility, marriage, divorce, and mortality all contributed to declines in the size of American households. Between 1950 and 2001 U.S. Census figures show the total death rate declined 11.5% and infant mortality rates plummeted 76.7%. Americans were healthier and lived longer. During this same period, however, the birth rate dropped 41.5%. The rate of marriage declined 24.3% while the divorce rate rose 53.8%. (See Table 1.3.)
In the twenty-first century, American life expectancy continued to increase. A baby boy born in 1900 could expect to live 46.3 years compared to 74.4 years for a boy born in 2001. (See Table 1.4.) In a February 2004 news release, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that life expectancy in the United States reached an all-time high in 2002, but the infant mortality rate increased for the first time since 1958. The preliminary report noted increases in low birth-weight babies, preterm births, and multiple births as factors contributing to higher risk of infant death during the first twenty-eight days of life. Overall death rates continued to decline. The divorce rate fell, but so did the marriage rate. The live birth rate and fertility rate, however, both increased slightly. (See Table 1.5.)
CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURE
The most noticeable long-term trend among American families has been the decline in the traditional family—a married couple with children. New terminology developed to describe the diverse types of families—single parent, stepparent, blended, unmarried partners, same-sex partners, and multigenerational.
The changes in the American family did not happen overnight but evolved after World War II. The uncertainty of the war drove many young couples to rush into marriage. At the war's end, returning soldiers married in record numbers and promptly began families. The "American Dream" became the security of a family in which the father's income provided for the household's needs, while
the mother's workday was relegated to taking care of the children and house. Couples generally started families immediately, and women bore more children and in quicker succession than in previous generations. The seventy-seven million children born during the years 1946–64, the single largest generation in U.S. history, came to be known as the "baby boom generation."
Attitudes toward divorce began to relax as couples who rushed to marry during the war years went their separate ways. Divorces increased significantly in the 1950s and 1960s. The children of these divorced couples experienced new challenges brought on by the breakup of their families. They grew up questioning the value of marriage and launched a sexual revolution in which living together without being married became commonplace. The number of cohabiting couples continued to grow in the 1970s and 1980s, and young men and women further delayed marriage and having children. Women found careers and put off childbearing even into their forties. By the 1990s, the definition of "family" broadened to include married couples, cohabiting couples, same-sex couples, and single persons, any of whom might have children of their own, as well as stepchildren and adopted children. The ranks of those who chose to live alone—who were once considered odd or eccentric—swelled to record numbers.
|Rates of live births, deaths, marriages, and divorces, 1950–2001|
|[Prior to 1960, excludes Alaska and Hawaii. Beginning 1970, excludes births to and deaths of non-residents of the United States.]|
|Rate per 1,000 population|
|NA Not available.|
|1Prior to 1960, data adjusted for underregistration.|
|2Infants under 1 year excluding fetal deaths; rates per 1,000 registered live births.|
|3Includes estimates for some states through 1965 and also for 1976 and 1977 and marriage licenses for some states for all years except 1973 and 1975. Beginning 1978, includes nonlicensed marriages in California.|
|4Includes reported annulments and some estimated state figures for all years.|
|5Divorce rate excludes data for California, Colorado, Indiana, and Louisiana; population for this rate also excludes these states.|
|source: Adapted from "No. 83. Live Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces, 1950–2001," in Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/vitstat.pdf (accessed August 11, 2004)|
In 1950 only 10.6% of American households were non-family households. Census 2000 recorded 33.7 million nonfamilies—32% of all households. (See Table 1.6.) As traditional families declined, nonfamily households increased. The majority of this growth was due to more people living alone. In 1970 persons living alone represented 17.1% of all households. By 2000, single persons accounted for 25.5% of households. The Census Bureau reported that women represented 67% of one-person households in 1970
|Life expectancy, 1900–2001|
|[Data are based on death certificates]|
|All races||White||Black or African American1|
|Specified age and year||Both Saxes||Male||Female||Both Saxes||Male||Female||Both Saxes||Male||Female|
|1Data shown for 1900–60 are for the nonwhite population.|
|2Death registration area only. The death registration area increased from 10 States and the District of Columbia in 1900 to the coterminous United States in 1933.|
|3Includes deaths of persons who were not residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.|
|4Life expectancies (LEs) for 2000 were revised and may differ from those shown previously. LEs for 2000 were computed using population counts from Census 2000 and replace LEs for 2000 using 1990-based postcensal estimates.|
|5Life expectancies for 2001 were computed using 2000-based postcensal estimates.|
|source: Adapted from "Life Expectancy at Birth and at 65 Years of Age and at 75 Years of Age, According to Race and Sex, United States, Selected Years 1900–2001," in Health, United States, 2003, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2003, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus027.pdf (accessed August 11, 2004)|
|At birth||Remaining life expectancy in years|
|Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths, 2003|
|(Rates for infant deaths are deaths under 1 year per 1,000 live births; fertility rates are live births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years; all other rates are per 1,000 total population. National data are bases on events occurring in the United States, regardless of place of residence.)|
|December||12 months ending with December|
|… Category not applicable.|
|— Data not available.|
|1Marriage rates may be underestimated due to incomplete reporting in Oklahoma.|
|2Divorce rates exclude data for California, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Populations for these rates also exclude these states.|
|Note: Figures include all revisions received from the states and, therefore, may differ from those previously published. National data are based on events occurring in the United States, regardless of place of residence.|
|source: M.L. Munson and P.D. Sutton, "Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for 2003," in National Vital Statistics Report, vol. 52, no. 22, National Center for Health Statistics, 2004, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_22.pdf (accessed July 16, 2004)|
|Population base (in millions)||…||…||292.7||289.7||…||…||291.4||288.4||285.3|
but only 58% of one-person households by 2000. Householders who lived with nonrelatives made up the other growing nonfamily household type. In 1970 householders with roommates or boarders accounted for 1.7% of all households, but by 2000 they represented 5.7%.
Women Had Fewer Children
The number of women of childbearing age increased substantially from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s as the baby boom generation matured. The decline in large families during this period was evident in the decreasing percentage
|Households by type and size, 1900–2000|
|Family households||Nonfamily households|
|Year||Total households||Total||Married Couples||Male householder*||Female householder*||Total||Male householder||Female householder||Average size household|
|*No spouse present|
|NA Not available. X Not applicable. No spouse present. Revised using population controls based on the 1980 census. Revisedusing population controls based on the 1990 census. Covers all years from 1947 to present.|
|source: Adapted from "HS-12. Households by Type and Size, 1900–2002," in Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/statab/hist/HS-12.pdf (accessed August 11, 2004)|
|Children ever born per 1,000 women 40–44 years old, selected years, 1976–2002|
|(Numbers in thousands)|
|Children ever born per 1,000 women||Percent distribution of women by number of children ever born|
|Year||Number of women||Total||None||1 child||2 children||3 children||4 children||5 or more children|
|source: Barbara Downs, "Table 2. Children Ever Born per 1,000 Women 40–44 Years Old, Selected Years, 1976–2002," in Fertility of American Women, June 2002, Current Population Reports, P20-548, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, October 2003, http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-548.pdf (accessed July 19, 2004)|
of women having three or more children. The percent of women who had given birth to five or more children dropped from 20.1% in 1976 to 3.6% in 2002. (See Table 1.7.) Between 1976 and 2002 the percentage of women who had one child nearly doubled, and the percentage of women with two children increased from 21.7% to 35.4%.
In Fertility of American Women the Census Bureau estimated that women in the forty to forty-four age range in 2002 would end their childbearing years with an average of 1.9 children. As recently as 1976 the average was 3.1 children per woman. In the span of less than two generations the size of the average family dropped by one full child.
With greater acceptance of women remaining single and pursuing careers, more women chose to remain childless. In 1976 only 10.2% of women age forty to forty-four were childless compared to 17.9% in 2002. (See Table 1.7.) Of the 61.4 million women in the fifteen to forty-four age range in June 2002, 3.8 million gave birth in the preceding twelve months. The birth rate for first-born children was highest among women in the twenty to twenty-four age range with 45.3 births per one thousand women. African-American women in this age range had a birth rate of 61.2 and Hispanic women had a rate of 70.8. Among Asian women, the highest birth rate (45.2) came in the twenty-five to twenty-nine age range. (See Table 1.8.)
|Fertility indicators for women 15–44 years old by age, race, and Hispanic origin, June 2002|
|(Numbers in thousands)|
|Women who had a child in the last year|
|Births per 1,000 women||Children ever born per 1,000 women|
|Characteristic||Number of women||Percent childless||Number with a birth||Rate||90-percent confidence interval||First births per 1,000 women|
|—Represents zero or rounds to zero.|
|source: Barbara Downs, "Table 1. Fertility Indicators for Women 15–44 Years Old by Age, Race, and Hispanic Origin, June 2002," in Fertility of American Women, June 2002, Current Population Reports, P20-548, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, October 2003, http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20–548.pdf (accessed July 19, 2004)|
|15 to 19 years||9,809||91.2||549||55.9||50.9–60.9||27.7||140|
|20 to 24 years||9,683||67.0||872||90.0||83.0–97.0||45.3||525|
|25 to 29 years||9,221||45.2||897||97.2||90.2–104.2||33.2||1,050|
|30 to 34 years||10,284||27.6||859||83.6||77.6–89.6||26.4||1,543|
|35 to 39 years||10,803||20.2||452||41.9||36.9–46.9||7.9||1,849|
|40 to 44 years||1,561||17.9||137||11.9||9.9–13.9||3.6||1,930|
|Race and ethnicity|
|15 to 19 years||7,699||91.9||394||51.1||45.1–57.1||24.7||129|
|20 to 24 years||7,604||69.5||631||83.0||76.0–90.0||42.8||473|
|25 to 29 years||7,151||46.6||723||101.1||93.1–109.1||34.7||1,018|
|30 to 34 years||8,057||27.2||717||88.9||81.7–95.1||29.5||1,530|
|35 to 39 years||8,658||20.2||374||43.2||38.2–48.2||7.9||1,842|
|40 to 44 years||9,313||17.9||120||12.8||9.8–15.8||4.2||1,917|
|15 to 19 years||6,296||93.0||289||45.8||39.8–51.8||21.7||116|
|20 to 24 years||6,138||73.2||437||71.1||63.1–79.1||37.4||406|
|25 to 29 years||5,599||51.1||555||99.2||90.2–108.2||37.4||881|
|30 to 34 years||6,544||29.9||576||88.0||80.0–96.0||28.7||1,413|
|35 to 39 years||7,281||21.5||300||41.2||36.2–46.2||7.7||1,755|
|40 to 44 years||8,160||18.5||106||13.0||10.0–16.0||4.2||1,842|
|15 to 19 years||1,535||86.7||125||81.4||65.4–97.4||38.0||214|
|20 to 24 years||1,497||51.1||193||128.9||108.9–148.9||61.2||828|
|25 to 29 years||1,351||31.6||98||72.7||56.7–88.7||18.6||1,392|
|30 to 34 years||1,440||23.9||95||66.1||51.1–81.1||10.1||1,790|
|35 to 39 years||1,506||19.7||52||34.2||23.2–45.2||5.0||1,942|
|40 to 44 years||1,518||19.2||8||5.6||1.6–9.6||—||1,991|
|Asian and Pacific islander|
|15 to 19 years||447||94.2||23||51.1||27.1–75.1||34.9||86|
|20 to 24 years||481||81.0||22||45.1||23.1–67.1||29.5||297|
|25 to 29 years||608||60.7||66||109.1||79.1–139.1||45.2||631|
|30 to 34 years||632||41.2||40||62.5||40.5–84.5||31.3||1,124|
|35 to 39 years||530||23.3||21||40.6||20.6–60.6||17.7||1,605|
|40 to 44 years||568||16.8||9||15.7||3.7–27.7||4.8||1,974|
|Hispanic (of any race)|
|15 to 19 years||1,517||87.8||105||69.3||48.3–90.3||35.4||172|
|20 to 24 years||1,574||52.9||226||143.7||115.7–171.7||70.8||768|
|25 to 29 years||1,682||29.5||176||104.6||80.6–128.6||25.8||1,522|
|30 to 34 years||1,620||15.6||152||93.7||70.7–116.7||32.6||2,043|
|35 to 39 years||1,481||13.4||77||52.1||34.1–70.1||8.1||2,287|
|40 to 44 years||1,266||13.1||14||10.9||1.9–19.9||3.8||2,437|
Births to Teenagers and Unmarried Women
In 1940 the birth rate per one thousand women age fifteen to nineteen was 54.1. In the post–World War II years the rate for this age group jumped from 59.3 in 1946 to 79.3 in 1947 and continued to rise to a high of 96.3 in 1957. From that peak, births to teenage mothers began a gradual decline to a record low of 42.9 per one thousand births in 2002. While teen births declined significantly, the number of unmarried teens giving birth increased. In 1940 only 13.6% of women age fifteen to
|Births to teenagers and to unmarried women, 1940–2002|
|[Represents registered births. Excludes births to nonresidents of the United States. Beginning 1980, data for states in which marital status was not reported, are inferred from other items on the birth certificate. Prior to 1980, births to unmarried women are estimated based on data for registration areas.]|
|Teen childbearing||Nonmarital childbearing|
|Year||Total number of births to women 15–19 years||Birth rate per 1,000 women 15–19 years||Percent of teen births to unmarried women||Total number of births to unmarried women||Birth rate per 1,000 unmarried women 15–44 years||Percent of all births to unmarried|
nineteen were unmarried when they gave birth. When the teen birth rate peaked in 1957, only 13.9% of births were to unmarried teens. By 2001, however, unmarried mothers accounted for 78.9% of all births to teens. (See Table 1.9.)
As attitudes toward marriage changed and more couples began to cohabit, attitudes toward births to unmarried women relaxed. In 1940 the birth rate for all unmarried women age fifteen to forty-four was 7.1 per one thousand. Contrary to the peak and decline pattern of births to teenagers, births to unmarried adult women continued a steady increase to forty-five births per one thousand in 2001. By 2002 one-third of all births were to unmarried women. (See Table 1.9.)
|NA Not available.|
|source: "HS-14. Births to Teenagers and to Unmarried Women, 1940–2002," in Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/statab/hist/HS-14.pdf (accessed August 11, 2004)|
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 853,485 legal induced abortions were performed in the United States in 2001 compared to 857,475 in 2000. The 2001 abortion ratio (the number of legal induced abortions per one thousand live births) was 246. This was a slight increase from 245 in 2000 but a decrease from 256 in 1999. The CDC noted that the national abortion ratio increased from 196 per one thousand live births in 1973 to a peak of 364 per one thousand in 1984 and since then has steadily declined. Most abortions in 2001 were obtained by white, unmarried women less than twenty-five years of age. As in previous years, about one-fifth of women who had abortions were nineteen years old or younger. Of the women who had abortions, 45% were known to have had no previous live births.
The CDC noted a number of factors that may have contributed to the overall decline in the abortion ratio. These factors included a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies; a shift in the age distribution of women (women are living longer and women past childbearing years make up a greater percentage of the female population); limited access to abortion services, including the passage of abortion laws that affect adolescents (parental consent or notification laws and mandatory waiting periods); and increased use of contraceptives (condoms and long-acting hormonal contraceptive methods for women that were introduced in the early 1990s).
Young Adults Delayed Marriage
Beginning in the mid-1960s, an increasing proportion of women and men postponed marriage. Many women began to focus attention on building careers. In 1950 14.4 million men (26.4%) and 11.4 million women (20%) had never been married. By 2002, 32% of men and 25.2% of women had never married. (See Table 1.10.)
The median age at first marriage in 1970 was 23.2 years old for men and 20.8 for women. As women found increasing opportunity in the workplace, they delayed marriage almost as long as men. By 2000 the median age at first marriage rose to 26.8 years old for men and 25.1 for women. (See Figure 1.2.)
Adult Children Living with Parents
Delays in marriage increased the number of one-person households or prompted adult children to continue living with their parents. Census 2000 reported 56% of men and 43% of women age eighteen to twenty-four lived at home with one or both parents. Both men and women in this age group were more likely to cohabit, live with roommates, or live with people other than spouses rather than live alone. Thirty percent of men and 35% of women in this age group lived with others who were neither spouses nor parents.
Single-Parent Households Increased
According to the Census Bureau's report America's Families and Living Arrangements 2000, single-mother households increased from 12% of family households in 1970 to 26% in 2000. In the same period single-father households grew from 1% to 5% of all family households. The sharp rise in birth rates among unmarried women between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s raised the proportion of children living with a single parent.
Before World War II divorces were difficult to obtain, and a divorce in a family was considered a scandalous
|Marital status of population 15 years old and over, by sex, 1950–2002|
|(Numbers in thousands)|
|*Data for March 2001 and later use population controls based on Census 2000 and an expanded sample of households designed to improve state estimates of children with health insurance.|
|source: Adapted from "Table MS-1. Marital Status of the Population 15 Years Old and Over, by Sex and Race, 1950–Present," in Annual Social and Economic Supplement: 2003 Current Population Survey, Series P20-553, U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabMS-1.pdf (accessed August 10, 2004)|
|Year||Total||Married||Total unmarried||Never married||Widowed||Divorced|
|Year||Total||Married||Total unmarried||Never married||Widowed||Divorced|
event. The Census Bureau reported that in 1950 only 2% of men and 2.4% of women were divorced. No-fault divorce laws introduced in most states in the mid-1970s made divorces easier to obtain. Divorce rates soared in the 1970s, reaching a peak of 5.3 divorces per one thousand population in about 1979. The Statistical Abstract of the United States 2003 reported a declining divorce rate as the nation entered the twenty-first century. There were 4.7 divorces per one thousand population in 1990; 4.5 in 1995; and 4.0 in 2001. By 2002, 8.1% of men and 10.7% of women identified their current status as divorced. (See Table 1.10.) (These figures did not account for people who had been divorced but were subsequently remarried.)
Divorce reduced the size of households when one household separated into two smaller ones. Remarriage by divorced persons, however, often brought stepchildren into the new household, sometimes creating larger families. It should be noted that stepchildren were counted as "own children" by the Census Bureau.
SAME-SEX PARTNERS AND FAMILIES
In Census 2000, 5.2 million households were classified as unmarried-partner households, representing 4.7% of all households in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, these figures may have underrepresented
the true number of cohabiting couples. Same-sex partners in particular may have been reluctant to identify themselves as such and thus described themselves as roommates or friends. Census 2000 counted a little more than 650,000 households, or 12.6% of unmarried partner households, as same-sex partners. (See Table 1.11.)
The sexual revolution of the 1960s ushered in an era of more liberal societal attitudes about male and female relationships, and it also brought a new tolerance toward the gay community. The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy organization supporting the civil rights of gay men and women, sought to have same-sex couples included in the popular definition of family. It claimed there were between six and ten million same-sex parents in the United States who were the mothers and fathers of an estimated six to fourteen million children.
Census 2000 recorded 3.9 million American households, or 4% of all households, that were composed of three or more generations living together. In 2000 there were 2.6 million multigenerational families that included children and grandchildren living with the householder. Nearly 1.3 million multigenerational families included the householder, his or her children, and his or her parents. Another seventy-eight thousand households, about 2% of all multigenerational family households, consisted of four generations. (See Table 1.12.)
The Census Bureau reported that multigenerational families were most common in areas where recent immigrants
|Unmarried partner households, by sex of partners, 2000|
|source: Adapted from "QT-P18. Marital Status by Sex, Unmarried-Partner Households, and Grandparents as Caregivers, 2000," in American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau, http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_QTP18&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-_sse=on (accessed August 5, 2004)|
|Male and female||4,571,992||87.4|
lived with relatives, housing shortages or high costs forced families to share living space, and teenage birth rates were high. As older adults lived longer, the need for family caregiving also created multigenerational households.
In 2000 children under age eighteen represented 26.3% of the population. They lived in diverse households. While 90% lived with at least one parent, 6.1% resided with a grandparent, 2% lived with other relatives, 0.4% lived with a foster family, and 1.4% lived with other nonrelatives. The South had the highest percentage of children living with grandparents (7.3%), while more children in the West (2.8%) lived with other relatives. (See Table 1.13.)
MILITARY FAMILIES IN WARTIME
In September 2003 America's active-duty military personnel had slightly more than two million dependents. While 749,000 dependents were spouses, 1.2 million (62%) were children. Another 11,600 military dependents were parents of active-duty personnel. Nine percent of military dependents lived in foreign countries and U.S. territories overseas. Typically, military families lived on or near military bases. Most knew the challenges of frequent relocations and the extended absences of husbands or wives, mothers or fathers.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq required expanded troop strength. On March 12, 2003, the Pentagon reported 188,592 Reserve and National Guard members on active duty. By May 2003 that number had increased to 220,000. More than half of these men and women had never before been called to active duty. Others had been activated only for short-duration assignments. More than a year later, Reserve and National Guard members remained a vital part of U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan and Iraq and in support roles in other countries.
In June 2003 the Department of Defense released a survey of spouses of activated National Guard and Reserve members. Three-fourths of the activated National Guard and Reserve members had held full-time jobs. Of
|Multigenerational households, 2000|
|Multigenerational households by type1|
|All households||Total2||Householder with child and grandchild||Householder with parent and child||Householder with parent, child and grandchild|
|Note: Parent may be either parent or parent-in-law of the householder. Child may be the natural born, adopted, or stepchild of the householder. Relationship refers to howeach person is related to the householder.|
|1Individual types may include a small number of households with members from additional generations, for example, grandparents or great-grandparents of the householders for which tabulated data are not available.|
|2Total represents only those three types of households specified in the table.|
|source: Adapted from "PHC-T-17. Multigenerational Households for the United States, States, and for Puerto Rico, 2000," in U.S. Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, September 2001, http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/phc-t17.pdf (accessed August 11, 2004)|
|Relationship to householder for children under 18 years, by region, 2000|
|Population under 18 years||Percent of population under 18 years|
|Area||Number||Percent of total population||Total||Son or daughter||Grandchild||Householder/spouse||Other relatives1||Foster child||Other nonrelatives2|
|—Represents or rounds to zero.|
|1Other relatives include brother/sister, nephew/niece, cousin, brother/sister-in-law, son/daughter-in-law, and the category "other relative." An example of a relationship in the latter category would be great-grandchild.|
|2Other nonrelatives include roomer/boarder, housemate/roommate, unmarried partners, and the category "other nonrelative." An example of the latter category would be a child of an unmarried partner or roommate but not a related child of the householder.|
|source: Adapted from Terry Lugaila and Julia Overturf, "Table 2. Relationship to Householder for Children under 18 Years for the United States, Regions, States, and for Puerto Rico, 2000," in Children and the Households They Live In, 2000, Current Population Reports, CENSR-14, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, February 2004, http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-14.pdf (accessed July 19, 2004)|
the spouses unexpectedly left in charge of the family and all family affairs, less than half were employed. (See Figure 1.3.) Fifteen percent of reservists were activated with twenty-four hours or less notice. Health insurance, finances, dependent care, and legal matters were identified as the primary types of arrangement the family needed to make prior to deployment. Dependent care was the most frequently cited concern, reported by 74.6% of respondents. (See Figure 1.4.) According to the survey, thirty percent of spouses reported family income had decreased, while 58% reported an increase in family income while the reservist was on active duty. Despite the challenges of family disruption and concerns for the safety of the active-duty family member, 61% of spouses said they were coping "very well" or "well"; 15% said they were coping "poorly" or "very poorly."