Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. PF 2.2 Percentage Distribution of Children by Number of Parents in Household

01/01/2000

Family structure is one of many factors that contributes to child well-being. It is also associated with the well-being of the child as an adult. For example, children from disrupted families or families where the parents never married are somewhat more likely to use alcohol and drugs, to become teen parents, and are less likely to earn a high school diploma than children from intact families. These associations are evident even after controlling for family socioeconomic status, race, and other background factors.4 Nevertheless, the great majority of children brought up in single-parent families do well. In particular, differences in well-being between children from divorced and those from intact families tend, on average, to be moderate to small.5

Between 1970 and 1999, the proportion of children in two-parent families (about 84 percent of whom live with both biological parents)6 decreased from 85 percent to 68 percent (see Table PF 2.2.A)

In 1999, 23 percent of children lived with their mother only; 4 percent lived with their father only;7 and 4 percent lived with neither parent (see Table PF 2.2.A).8 Of those who lived with neither parent, more than one-half were residing with one or more grandparents as of 1993 (see Table PF 2.2.B).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin. The decrease in the proportion of children living in two-parent families is evident for black, white, and Hispanic children, though the decline is somewhat steeper for black children (see Figure PF 2.2.A). Between 1970 and 1996, the proportion of black children living in two-parent families fell by 25 percentage points from 58 percent to 33 percent (see Table PF 2.2.A). However, between 1996 and 1999, that percentage increased modestly to 35 percent. Between 1970 and 1999, the drop for white children was 16 percentage points, from 90 percent to 74 percent. For Hispanic children, the percentage living in two-parent families decreased from 78 percent to 63 percent.

Table PF 2.2.A Percentage distribution of living arrangements of children under age 18 in the United States, by race and Hispanic origin:a Selected years, 1970-1999

  1970 1980 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994b 1995b 1996b 1997b 1998b 1999b
Total
Two parents 85 77 73 72 71 71 69 69 68 68 68 68
Mother only 11 18 22 22 23 23 23 23 24 24 23 23
Father only 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4
No parent 3 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
Whitea
Two parents 90 83 79 78 77 77 76 76 75 75 74 74
Mother only 8 14 16 17 18 17 18 18 18 18 18 18
Father only 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 4
No parent 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3
Blacka
Two parents 58 42 38 36 36 36 33 33 33 35 36 35
Mother only 30 44 51 54 54 54 53 52 53 52 51 52
Father only 2 2 4 4 3 3 4 4 4 5 4 4
No parent 10 12 8 7 7 7 10 11 9 8 9 10
Hispanica
Two parents 78 75 67 66 65 65 63 63 62 64 64 63
Mother only 20 27 27 28 28 28 28 29 27 27 27
Father only 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5
No parent 3 3 4 3 4 5 4 5 5 5 5

a Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks include persons of Hispanic origin.

b Numbers in these years may reflect changes in the Current Population Survey because of newly instituted computer-assisted interviewing techniques and/or because of the change in the population controls to the 1990 Census-based estimates, with adjustments.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, no. 410, no. 461, no. 468, no. 478, no. 491, no. 496u, no. 506u, no. 514u (Table 4 in each); and no. 484, Table A-5; also unpublished data, U.S. Bureau of the Census.


Table PF 2.2.B. Percentage distribution of children under age 18 in the United States in two-parent, one-parent, or no-parent families, by age, race and Hispanic origin, poverty status, and parent’s education level: 1993

  Two-Parent Families Single-Parent Families No Parents Present
Totala Biological Parents One Biological, One Step-parent Totala BiologicMother Biological Father Totala Grandparents
All children 70.8 59.8 7.1 26.5 22.6 2.1 2.4 1.5
Ages 0-5 72.8 67.4 1.8 25.4 22.5 1.2 1.8 1.3
Ages 6-11 70.8 58.9 7.9 26.7 22.8 1.9 2.4 1.8
Ages 12-17 68.8 52.3 12.2 27.5 22.4 3.2 3.2 1.6
Race and Hispanic originb
White, non-Hispanic 80.1 67.8 8.2 18.4 15.2 2.2 1.4 0.9
Black, non-Hispanic 35.9 28.2 4.4 56.9 48.9 2.2 7.1 4.7
Hispanic 61.5 52.9 5.6 35.3 32.6 1.4 2.7 1.6
Poverty status
Below poverty 37.1 31.1 3.5 58.4 52.4 1.9 4.2 2.5
At or above poverty 80.6 68.2 8.2 17.2 13.9 2.1 1.9 1.2
Parent's education levelb
Less than high school 45.2 38.7 4.3 54.8 47.3 2.6
Completed high school 67.8 55.8 8.1 32.2 27.2 2.8
At least some college 76.5 63.1 9.4 23.5 20.3 1.9
Four or more years of college 90.3 79.1 6.2 9.7 7.8

a Totals for two-parent, one-parent, and no-parent families include categories beyond those presented separately.

b Education level in two-parent families is determined by the higher educated parent.

Source: Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1993. Analysis by Child Trends.


Figure PF 2.2 Percentage of children under age 18 in the United States who are living with two parents, by race and Hispanic origin:a 1970-1999​b

Figure PF 2.2 Percentage of children under age 18 in the United States who are living with two parents, by race and Hispanic origin:a 1970-1999b

a Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks include persons of Hispanic origin.

b Numbers in the years 1994 and beyond may reflect changes in the Current Population Survey because of newly constituted computer-assisted interviewing techniques and/or because of the change in the population controls to the 1990 Census-based estimates, with adjustments.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, no. 410, no. 461, no. 468, no. 478, no. 491, no. 496u, no. 506u, no. 514u (Table 4 in each); and no. 484, Table A-5; also unpublished data, U.S. Bureau of the Census. As published in America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 1998. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, Table POP5.


4 Amato, P.R. 1993. Children’s Adjustment to Divorce: Theories, Hypotheses, and Empirical Support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55: 23-58.

5 Zill, N., Morrison, D., & Coiro, M. 1993. Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships: Adjustment and Achievement in Early Adulthood. Journal of Family Psychology 7 (1): 91-103.

6 Analyses by Child Trends of the 1993 Survey of Income and Program Participation indicates that 84 percent of children in married-couple families live with both biological parents (see Table PF 2.2.B).

7 The Current Population Survey overestimates the proportion of children living in father-only families, because it identifies many cohabiting biological-parent couples as father-only. Though the precise size of the overestimate is not known, analyses of the 1993 Survey of Income and Program Participation indicate that a little over 2 percent of all children actually lived in father-only families in that year (see Table PF 2.2.B).

8 Data from the 1996 Current Population Survey (not shown) indicate that 11 percent of all children under age 18 who are living in families live with single parents who are divorced. See Saluter, A. 1997. PPL-66, Household and Family Characteristics: March 1996 (Update), U.S. Bureau of the Census.

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