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

08/01/2004

Among families with children between the ages of 2 and 17, twenty-two percent experienced a change in the composition of their family between 1999 and 2001. Family structure change refers to any entrance or exit of related and non-related adults and children from the family, including the birth of a child. It also includes changes in marital status from cohabiting to married. Analyses exclude children under the age of 2 because the reported family structure change may have occurred before they were born. Poor families have a much higher likelihood of experiencing family structure change than do non-poor families. More than two-fifths (43 percent) of families with incomes below the poverty level in 1999 experienced a change in family composition in the following two years, compared with only one-fifth (19 percent) of families with incomes at or above the poverty level. This poverty differential is reflected in differences by race and Hispanic origin as well. Black, non-Hispanic families, who had the highest poverty rates in 1999, were more likely than white, non-Hispanics to have experienced family structure change (28 percent compared with 20 percent).

Percentage of families with one or more children ages 2 to 17
that experienced a change in family structure
during the past two years, by 1999 poverty status: 2001

bar chart

Source: Child Trends' analyses of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 2001.

LD

  Percent
Table 2.
Percentage of families with children 2-17 years of age that have experienced a change in family structure
during the past two years, by selected characteristics:(a) 2001
Total 21.9
Race and Hispanic Origin(b)  
  White, non-Hispanic 20.5
  Black, non-Hispanic 27.9
  Hispanic 19.9
  Asian or Other(c) 28.0
Poverty Status(d)  
  Below poverty level 42.5
  At or above poverty level 19.1
Age of Youngest Child  
  2-5 years 23.9
  6-11 years 19.3
  12-17 years 22.9
a. Family structure change refers to any entrance or exit of related and non-related adults and children from the family, including the birth of a child. It also includes changes in marital status from cohabiting to married.
b. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Refers to the race and Hispanic origin of the household head.
c. "Other" category includes American Indians, Aleuts, Eskimos, people who mentioned a color other than black or white, and those who did not nominate themselves into any of the other categories.
d. Poverty status is based on 1999 total family income relative to the official federal poverty threshold for the family's size
Note: Analyses are limited to families that have children between the ages of 2 and 17 living in the household. Analyses exclude children under the age of 2 because the reported family structure change may have occurred before they were born.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 2001.

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