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
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
|Without own children||43||44||48||51||51||51||51||50||51||51||51||51||52|
|4 or more children||9||10||4||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|Without own children||43||45||49||51||53||53||53||52||52||52||52||52||53|
|4 or more children||9||9||4||3||3||3||2||2||2||3||2||2||3|
|Without own children||—||39||38||41||41||42||42||40||42||43||42||42||44|
|4 or more children||—||19||8||6||6||5||5||5||5||5||5||4||4|
|Without own children||—||—||31||37||36||36||37||36||36||36||35||36||37|
|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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