Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Non-marital birth risk factor 4. Never-married family status

03/01/2001

Figure BIRTH 4. Percentage of All Children Living in Families with a Never-Married Female Head, by Race: 1982-2000

Figure BIRTH 4. Percentage of All Children Living in Families with a Never-Married Female Head, by Race: 1982-2000

Source of CPS data: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Marital Status and Living Arrangements,” Current Population Reports, Series P20-212, 287, 365, 380, 399, 418, 423, 433, 445, 450, 461, 468, 478, 484, 491, 496, 506, 514, various years, and ASPE tabulations of the 1999 and 2000 CPS.

Source of 1960 data:  U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1960 Census of Population, PC(2)-4B, “Persons by Family Characteristics,” tables 1 and 19.


  • The percentage of children living in families with never-married female heads increased from under 5 percent in 1982 to nearly 10 percent in 2000.

  • The percentage of white children living in families headed by never-married women has continued to rise over the past twenty years, from less than 2 percent in 1982 to over 5 percent in 2000. 

  • Among Hispanics, the percentage of children living with never-married female heads more than doubled over the past sixteen years, going from less than 6 percent in 1982 to more than 12 percent in 1997.  In 2000, the percentage dropped nearly a full point.

  • The percentage of black children living in families headed by never-married women was much higher than the percentages for other groups throughout the time period.  However, the percentage dropped from 35 to 33 percent in the past year.

Table BIRTH 4. Number and Percentage of All Children Living in Families with a Never-Married Female Head, by Race: Selected Years

  Numberof Children (in thousands) Percentage
  All Races White Black Hispanic All Races White Black Hispanic
1960 221 49 173 0.4 0.1 2.2
1970 527 110 442 0.8 0.2 5.2
1975 1,166 296 864 1.8 0.5 9.9
1980 1,745 501 1,193 210 2.9 1.0 14.5 4.0
1982 2,768 793 1,947 291 4.6 1.6 22.7 5.7
1984 3,131 959 2,109 357 5.2 1.9 23.9 6.5
1986 3,606 1,174 2,375 451 5.9 2.3 26.6 7.2
1987 3,985 1,385 2,524 587 6.5 2.8 28.2 9.2
1988 4,302 1,482 2,736 600 7.0 3.0 30.4 9.2
1989 4,290 1,483 2,695 592 6.9 2.9 29.6 8.7
1990 4,365 1,527 2,738 605 7.0 3.0 29.6 8.7
1991 5,040 1,725 3,176 644 8.0 3.4 33.3 9.0
1992 5,410 2,016 3,192 757 8.4 3.9 33.1 10.3
1993 5,511 2,015 3,317 848 8.5 3.9 33.6 11.3
1994 6,000 2,412 3,321 1,083 9.0 4.5 32.9 12.0
1995 5,862 2,317 3,255 1,017 8.7 4.3 32.3 10.8
1996 6,365 2,563 3,567 1,161 9.4 4.8 34.4 12.0
1997 6,598 2,788 3,575 1,242 9.7 5.1 34.3 12.4
1998 6,700 2,850 3,644 1,254 9.8 5.2 35.1 12.2
1999 6,759 2,841 3,652 1,310 9.8 5.2 35.3 12.3
2000 6,591 2,881 3,413 1,256 9.5 5.3 32.9 11.4

Note: Data are for all children under 18 who are not family heads (excludes householders, subfamily reference persons, and their spouses). Also excludes inmates of institutions; children who are living with neither of their parents are excluded from the denominator.  Based on Current Population Survey (CPS) except 1960, 1970, and 1980, which are based on decennial census data. Nonwhite data are shown for Black in 1960.  In 1982, improved data collection and processing procedures helped to identify parent-child subfamilies. (See Current Population Reports, P-20, 399, Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1984.)

Source of CPS data: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Marital Status and Living Arrangements,” Current Population Reports, Series P20-212, 287, 365, 380, 399, 418, 423, 433, 445, 450, 461, 468, 478, 484, 491, 496, 506, 514, various years, and ASPE tabulations of the 1999 and 2000 CPS.

Source of 1960 data: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1960 Census of Population, PC(2)-4B, “Persons by Family Characteristics,” tables 1 and 19.

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