Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Connections. Family structure

08/01/2004

The percentage of children under age 18 living with two married parents declined between 1980 and 2002, from 77 percent to 69 percent. Despite this long-term decrease, however, the percentage of children living with two married parents has been relatively stable since 1995.

Between 1980 and 2002, the percentage of children living in mother-only families increased from 18 percent to 23 percent. During the same time period, the percentage of children living in father-only families increased from 2 percent to 5 percent. Over the past two decades, the percentage of children living without either parent remained stable at about 4 percent.

Black and Hispanic children are much less likely than are non-Hispanic white children to live with two married parents. In 2002, 38 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children lived with two married parents, compared with 77 percent of non-Hispanic white children under age 18. While the percentage of black children living with two married parents increased between 1995 and 2002, from 33 percent to 38 percent, that percentage among Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites was relatively stable.

Percentage of children under age 18 by presence of married parents in the household: selected years 1980 -2002
line chart

LD

Note: The category "two married parents" includes children who live with a biological, step, or adoptive parent who is married with his or her spouse present. If a second parent is present and not married to the first parent, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, March Current Population Survey and Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2003). America's children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2003. Washington, DC: Author.

  1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001(a) 2002(a)
Table 1.
Percentage of children under age 18 by presence of married parents in household,
by race and Hispanic origin: selected years 1980-2002
Total
  Two married parents(b) 77 74 73 69 68 68 68 68 69 69 69
  Mother only(c) 18 21 22 23 24 24 23 23 22 22 23
  Father only(c) 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5
  No parent 4 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
White, non-Hispanic
  Two married parents(b) - - 81 78 77 77 76 77 77 78 77
  Mother only(c) - - 15 16 16 17 16 16 16 16 16
  Father only(c) - - 3 3 4 4 5 4 4 4 4
  No parent - - 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 3
Black, non-Hispanic
  Two married parents(b) 42 39 38 33 33 35 36 35 38 38 38
  Mother only(c) 44 51 51 52 53 52 51 52 49 48 48
  Father only(c) 2 3 4 4 4 5 4 4 4 5 5
  No parent 12 7 8 11 9 8 9 10 9 10 8
Hispanic(d)
  Two married parents(b) 75 68 67 63 62 64 64 63 65 65 65
  Mother only(c) 20 27 27 28 29 27 27 27 25 25 25
  Father only(c) 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 4 5 5
  No parent 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 6 5
- = not available
a. Beginning with March 2001, data are from the expanded Current Population Survey sample and use population controls based on Census 2000.
b. Excludes families where parents are not living as a married couple.
c. Because of data limitations, includes some families where both parents are present in the household but living as unmarried partners.
d. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Note: Family structure refers to the presence of biological, adoptive, and stepparents in the child's household. Thus, a child with a biological mother and stepfather living in the household is said to have two married parents.

Two married parents family: In the Current Population Survey, children live in a two-parent family if they are living with a parent who is married with his or her spouse present. This is not an indicator of the biological relationship between the child and the parents. The parent who is identified could be a biological, step, or adoptive parent. If a second parent is present and not married to the first parent, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.

Single parent family: A "single" parent is defined as a parent who is not currently living with a spouse. Single parents may be married and not living with their spouse, they may be divorced, widowed, or never married. As with the identification of two-parents described above, if a second parent is present and not married to the first, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, March Current Population Survey and Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2003). America's children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2003. Washington, DC: Author

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