Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. ES 3.1 Parental labor force participation

04/01/1997

Over the last three decades the proportion of single-parent families has increased, as has the proportion of mothers who work regardless of marital status.21 These factors have reduced the percentage of children who have a parent at home full time. Figure ES 3.1 presents data on the percentage of children who have all resident parents participating in the labor force22 at some level for the years 1985, 1990, and 1994 through 1996.

Parents in the Labor Force by Family Type. Between 1985 and 1996, the percentage of children who have all resident parents in the labor force increased from 59 percent to 66 percent (see Figure ES 3.1). Since 1990, the percentage of children who have all resident parents participating in the labor force has been similar for both married-couple families and single-mother families. In 1996, the rate was 64 percent for married-couple families and 66 percent for single-mother families. The rate for children in single-father families has remained much higher, at 88 percent.

Parents in the Labor Force by Age of Child. Children under age 6 have been less likely than older children to have all resident parents in the labor force (see Table ES 3.1). In 1996, 58 percent of younger children had all resident parents in the labor force, compared with 70 percent for older children.

Parents in the Labor Force by Race and Ethnicity. Between 1985 and 1990, white children, black children, and Hispanic children all became more likely to have all their resident parents in the labor force (see Table ES 3.1). However, between 1990 and 1996, the rates stayed virtually the same for blacks and Hispanics, and increased modestly for whites. By 1996, 66 percent of white children, 64 percent of black children, and 50 percent of Hispanic children lived in families in which all resident parents were working.
 

Figure ES 3.1  
Percentage of Children with Both Parents or Only Resident Parent in the Labor Force: 1985-1996 

FIGES3_1.GIF
 
Sources: 1985, 1990, 1994, and 1995 statistics calculated by Child Trends, Inc., based on the March 1985, 1990, 1994, and 1995 Current Population Surveys. 1996 statistics calculated by the U.S. Bureau of the Census based on the 1996 Current Population Survey. 

 

Table ES 3.1 
Percentage of Children with Both Parents or Only Resident Parent in the Labor Force: 1985-1996

               
     
1985 
1990 
1994 
1995 
1996 
     
______ 
______ 
______ 
______ 
______ 
               
All children .........
59 
63 
64 
65 
66 
  < age 6 .........
51 
55 
56 
59 
58 
  age 6-17 .........
63 
67 
68 
69 
70 
               
Family type
               
  Married-couple .........
57 
61 
63 
65 
64 
    < age 6 .........
51 
54 
57 
59 
58 
    age 6-17 .........
61 
65 
67 
68 
67 
               
  Single-mother .........
61 
63 
62 
64 
66 
    < age 6 .........
49 
51 
52 
54 
56 
    age 6-17 .........
67 
70 
68 
69 
72 
               
  Single-father .........
89 
88 
86 
88 
88 
    < age 6 .........
90 
90 
85 
86 
86 
    age 6-17 .........
89 
88 
86 
88 
89 
               
Race/ethnicity group
               
  White .........
59 
63 
64 
66 
66 
    < age 6 .........
51 
55 
57 
59 
58 
    age 6-17 .........
63 
67 
68 
70 
70 
               
  Black .........
60 
63 
62 
64 
64 
    < age 6 .........
54 
55 
56 
57 
58 
    age 6-17 .........
63 
67 
66 
67 
68 
               
  Hispanic .........
45 
50 
49 
50 
50 
    < age 6 .........
40 
44 
41 
44 
43 
    age 6-17 .........
48 
54 
54 
54 
55 
               
               
Sources: 1985, 1990, 1994 and 1995 statistics calculated by Child Trends, Inc., based on the March 1985, 1990, 1994, and 1995 Current Population Surveys. 1996 statistics calculated by the U.S. Bureau of the Census based on the 1996 Current Population Survey.

 

21 Bianchi, S. M. 1995. "Changing Economic Roles of Women and Men" in State of the Union: American in the 1990s: Volume I. Reynolds Farley (ed.). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1995.

22 Participating in the labor force means either working or looking for work.
 

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