Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. PF 2.1 Percentage of Families with Children and Distribution of Families by Number of Children

01/01/2000

Since 1960, Americans have been moving toward having families with fewer children. Indeed, a growing percentage of families have no minor children of their own in their household. Between 1960 and 1990, the percentage of families with four or more of their own children under age 18 in the household decreased from 9 percent to 3 percent, where it has remained (see Figure PF 2.1). During the same period, the proportion of families with no minor children grew from 43 percent to 51 percent.

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin. These general trends are also evident when white, black, and Hispanic families are considered separately, though the levels are substantially different for each group (see Table PF 2.1). For example, between 1970 and 1999 the percentage of black families with four or more children dropped from 19 percent to 4 percent. The percentage for whites during that period went from 9 percent to 3 percent. For Hispanic families, the percentage dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent between 1980 (the first year for which Hispanic estimates are available) and 1999.

In 1999, black and Hispanic families were considerably less likely than white families to be without any minor children, with proportions of 44 percent and 37 percent respectively, compared to 53 percent for whites. They were also more likely than white families to have four or more children, though these differences were smaller than in previous decades.

Figure PF 2.1. Percentage of families in the United States with no children, and with four or more resident children: Selected years, 1960-1999

Figure PF 2.1 Percentage of families in the United States with no children, and with four or more resident children: Selected years, 1960-1999

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Households and Family Characteristics: 1998, no. 515; also previous issues of this annual report (Series P-20, no. 509, no. 495, no. 488, no. 483, no. 477, no. 467, no. 458, no. 447, and no. 366, Table 1 in each; no. 218, Table 5; and no. 106, Table 7).

Table PF 2.1. Percentage distribution of families in the United States by number of own children under age 18 and by race and Hispanic origin:a Selected years, 1960-1999

  1960 1970 1980 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
All families
Without own children 43 44 48 51 51 51 51 50 51 51 51 51 52
One child 19 18 21 21 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
2 children 18 17 19 19 19 18 19 19 19 19 19 19 18
3 children 11 11 8 7 7 7 7 8 7 7 7 8 7
4 or more children 9 10 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Whitea families
Without own children 43 45 49 51 53 53 53 52 52 52 52 52 53
One child 19 18 21 21 19 20 19 19 20 19 20 20 19
2 children 18 18 19 19 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 18 18
3 children 11 11 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
4 or more children 9 9 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 3 2 2 3
Blacka families
Without own children 39 38 41 41 42 42 40 42 43 42 42 44
One child 18 23 25 25 24 25 25 24 24 24 23 24
2 children 15 20 19 19 19 18 20 20 18 20 21 19
3 children 10 10 9 9 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 9
4 or more children 19 8 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4
Hispanica families
Without own children 31 37 36 36 37 36 36 36 35 36 37
One child 23 23 22 22 23 22 23 23 24 23 23
2 children 23 21 23 22 22 23 23 23 23 23 22
3 children 13 12 12 13 12 13 12 12 12 12 12
4 or more children 10 7 7 7 7 6 7 7 6 6 6

a Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks include persons of Hispanic origin. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census. Current Population Reports, Series P-20.

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