Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Connections:

Family Structure

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Family structure

The percentage of children under age 18 living with two married parents declined between 1980 and 2002, from 77 percent to 69 percent. Despite this long-term decrease, however, the percentage of children living with two married parents has been relatively stable since 1995.

Between 1980 and 2002, the percentage of children living in mother-only families increased from 18 percent to 23 percent. During the same time period, the percentage of children living in father-only families increased from 2 percent to 5 percent. Over the past two decades, the percentage of children living without either parent remained stable at about 4 percent.

Black and Hispanic children are much less likely than are non-Hispanic white children to live with two married parents. In 2002, 38 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children lived with two married parents, compared with 77 percent of non-Hispanic white children under age 18. While the percentage of black children living with two married parents increased between 1995 and 2002, from 33 percent to 38 percent, that percentage among Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites was relatively stable.

Percentage of children under age 18 by presence of married parents in the household: selected years 1980 -2002
line chart

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Note: The category "two married parents" includes children who live with a biological, step, or adoptive parent who is married with his or her spouse present. If a second parent is present and not married to the first parent, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, March Current Population Survey and Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2003). America's children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2003. Washington, DC: Author.
Table 1.
Percentage of children under age 18 by presence of married parents in household,
by race and Hispanic origin: selected years 1980-2002
  1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001(a) 2002(a)
Total
  Two married parents(b) 77 74 73 69 68 68 68 68 69 69 69
  Mother only(c) 18 21 22 23 24 24 23 23 22 22 23
  Father only(c) 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5
  No parent 4 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
White, non-Hispanic
  Two married parents(b) - - 81 78 77 77 76 77 77 78 77
  Mother only(c) - - 15 16 16 17 16 16 16 16 16
  Father only(c) - - 3 3 4 4 5 4 4 4 4
  No parent - - 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 3
Black, non-Hispanic
  Two married parents(b) 42 39 38 33 33 35 36 35 38 38 38
  Mother only(c) 44 51 51 52 53 52 51 52 49 48 48
  Father only(c) 2 3 4 4 4 5 4 4 4 5 5
  No parent 12 7 8 11 9 8 9 10 9 10 8
Hispanic(d)
  Two married parents(b) 75 68 67 63 62 64 64 63 65 65 65
  Mother only(c) 20 27 27 28 29 27 27 27 25 25 25
  Father only(c) 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 4 5 5
  No parent 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 6 5

- = not available
a. Beginning with March 2001, data are from the expanded Current Population Survey sample and use population controls based on Census 2000.
b. Excludes families where parents are not living as a married couple.
c. Because of data limitations, includes some families where both parents are present in the household but living as unmarried partners.
d. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Note: Family structure refers to the presence of biological, adoptive, and stepparents in the child's household. Thus, a child with a biological mother and stepfather living in the household is said to have two married parents.

Two married parents family: In the Current Population Survey, children live in a two-parent family if they are living with a parent who is married with his or her spouse present. This is not an indicator of the biological relationship between the child and the parents. The parent who is identified could be a biological, step, or adoptive parent. If a second parent is present and not married to the first parent, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.

Single parent family: A "single" parent is defined as a parent who is not currently living with a spouse. Single parents may be married and not living with their spouse, they may be divorced, widowed, or never married. As with the identification of two-parents described above, if a second parent is present and not married to the first, then the child is identified as living with a single parent.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, March Current Population Survey and Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2003). America's children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2003. Washington, DC: Author

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Family structure change

Among families with children between the ages of 2 and 17, twenty-two percent experienced a change in the composition of their family between 1999 and 2001. Family structure change refers to any entrance or exit of related and non-related adults and children from the family, including the birth of a child. It also includes changes in marital status from cohabiting to married. Analyses exclude children under the age of 2 because the reported family structure change may have occurred before they were born. Poor families have a much higher likelihood of experiencing family structure change than do non-poor families. More than two-fifths (43 percent) of families with incomes below the poverty level in 1999 experienced a change in family composition in the following two years, compared with only one-fifth (19 percent) of families with incomes at or above the poverty level. This poverty differential is reflected in differences by race and Hispanic origin as well. Black, non-Hispanic families, who had the highest poverty rates in 1999, were more likely than white, non-Hispanics to have experienced family structure change (28 percent compared with 20 percent).

Percentage of families with one or more children ages 2 to 17
that experienced a change in family structure
during the past two years, by 1999 poverty status: 2001

bar chart

Source: Child Trends' analyses of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 2001.

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Table 2.
Percentage of families with children 2-17 years of age that have experienced a change in family structure
during the past two years, by selected characteristics:(a) 2001
  Percent
Total 21.9
Race and Hispanic Origin(b)  
  White, non-Hispanic 20.5
  Black, non-Hispanic 27.9
  Hispanic 19.9
  Asian or Other(c) 28.0
Poverty Status(d)  
  Below poverty level 42.5
  At or above poverty level 19.1
Age of Youngest Child  
  2-5 years 23.9
  6-11 years 19.3
  12-17 years 22.9

a. Family structure change refers to any entrance or exit of related and non-related adults and children from the family, including the birth of a child. It also includes changes in marital status from cohabiting to married.
b. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Refers to the race and Hispanic origin of the household head.
c. "Other" category includes American Indians, Aleuts, Eskimos, people who mentioned a color other than black or white, and those who did not nominate themselves into any of the other categories.
d. Poverty status is based on 1999 total family income relative to the official federal poverty threshold for the family's size
Note: Analyses are limited to families that have children between the ages of 2 and 17 living in the household. Analyses exclude children under the age of 2 because the reported family structure change may have occurred before they were born.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 2001.

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Families with grandparents who live nearby

Fifty-six percent of families with resident children ages 24 and under lived within 50 miles of a grandparent in 1992-1993.

Families with younger children are more likely than families with older children to live near a grandparent. While 63 percent of families with children ages 0 to 5 lived near a grandparent in 1992-1993, 57 percent of families with children ages 6 to 11, fifty-two percent of those with children ages 12 to 17, and 37 percent of families with children ages 18 to 24 lived near a grandparent.

Geographic proximity to grandparents also varied by race and Hispanic origin, as well as family structure. Black, non-Hispanic families were more likely than white, non-Hispanic and Hispanic families to live near a grandparent (62 percent compared with 55 percent and 51 percent, respectively) in 1992-1993.

In general, one-parent families were more likely than two-parent families to live within close proximity of a grandparent. Sixty-two percent of one-parent families and 55 percent of two-parent families lived near a grandparent.

Percentage of families with resident children age 24 and under that had grandparents
who live nearby, by age of child: 1992-1993

bar chart

Note: Data are presented for children up to age 24 since a large proportion remain living at home and benefit from proximity to a grandparent.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Survey of Families and Households, 1992-93.

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Table 3.
Percentage of families with children age 24 and under
in the household that had grandparents who lived nearby,
by selected characteristics:(a) 1992-1993
  Percent
Total 55.6
Race and Hispanic Origin(b)
  White, non-Hispanic 55.3
  Black, non-Hispanic 62.0
  Hispanic 50.8
  Other(c) 49.0
Family Structure(d)
  Two parents 54.6
  One parent 61.7
Age of Child(e)
  0-5 years 63.3
  6-11 years 57.4
  12-17 years 51.9
  18-24 years 37.0

a. Living nearby is defined as living within 50 miles.
b. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Refers to the race and Hispanic origin of the parent.
c. Most in this category are Asian or American Indian.
d. Includes families where cohabiting partners are regarded as parents.
e. Child refers to the randomly selected child (among all children age 24 and under) of the respondent.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Survey of Families and Households, 1992-1993.

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Births to unmarried teens

Birth rates among unmarried teens rose from 27.6 in 1980 to 45.8 in 1994, and have since declined to 35.4 in 2002. Among unmarried females ages 15 to 17 the birth rate increased from 20.6 in 1980 to 31.7 in 1994, and then declined to back to 1980 levels to 20.8 by 2002. Among unmarried young women ages 18 and 19, the birth rate increased from 39.0 in 1980 to 69.7 in 1994, and then declined to 58.6 by 2002. Hispanic and black unmarried teens have had consistently higher birth rates than non-Hispanic whites, although the rates for all races have declined in recent years, particularly among blacks. Nevertheless, the unmarried teen birth rate for Hispanics ages 15-17 was 43.3 in 2002 and for blacks it was 39.9, compared with 11.5 for white, non-Hispanic teens of that age group. Among unmarried teens ages 18 to 19, the birth rate was 105.3 for Hispanic women, 104.1 for black women, and 38.8 for white, non-Hispanic women in 2002.

Births per 1,000 unmarried teens within age groups: 1960-2001
line chart

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. (2000). Nonmarital childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999. National Vital Statistics Reports, 48(16); and National Center for Health Statistics. (2003). Births: Final data for 2001. National Vital Statistics Reports, 51(2).

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Table 4.
Births per 1,000 unmarried teen women within age groups, by race: 1980-2002(a,b)
  Total Ages 15-19 Ages 15-17 Ages 18-19
All races All races Black White White,non-Hispanic(c) Hispanic(c,d) All races Black White White,non-Hispanic(c) Hispanic(c,d)
1980 27.6 20.6 68.8 12.0 - - 39.0 118.2 24.1 - -
1981 27.9 20.9 65.9 12.6 - - 39.0 114.2 24.6 - -
1982 28.7 21.5 66.3 13.1 - - 39.6 112.7 25.3 - -
1983 29.5 22.0 66.8 13.6 - - 40.7 111.9 26.4 - -
1984 30.0 21.9 66.5 13.7 - - 42.5 113.6 27.9 - -
1985 31.4 22.4 66.8 14.5 - - 45.9 117.9 31.2 - -
1986 32.3 22.8 67.0 14.9 - - 48.0 121.1 33.5 - -
1987 33.8 24.5 69.9 16.2 - - 48.9 123.0 34.5 - -
1988 36.4 26.4 73.5 17.6 - - 51.5 130.5 36.8 - -
1989 40.1 28.7 78.9 19.3 - - 56.0 140.9 40.2 - -
1990 42.5 29.6 78.8 20.4 16.2 45.9 60.7 143.7 44.9 37.0 98.9
1991 44.6 30.8 79.9 21.7 - 49.5 65.4 147.6 49.4 - 107.4
1992 44.2 30.2 77.3 21.5 - 49.2 66.7 146.2 51.1 - 106.6
1993 44.0 30.3 76.0 21.9 - 49.5 66.1 139.7 51.9 - 109.1
1994 45.8 31.7 74.0 23.9 18.0 55.5 69.7 139.2 55.7 44.9 116.0
1995 43.8 30.1 67.5 23.3 17.6 52.5 66.5 128.7 54.6 44.4 109.6
1996 42.2 28.5 62.8 22.3 16.9 49.6 64.9 126.8 53.4 43.8 102.7
1997 41.4 27.7 59.2 22.0 16.2 50.5 63.9 124.5 52.8 43.1 100.9
1998 40.9 26.5 55.2 21.5 15.6 49.7 63.7 121.0 53.0 42.9 101.4
1999 39.7 25.0 50.1 20.7 14.6 48.6 62.4 115.3 52.8 42.5 100.1
2000 39.0 23.9 48.3 19.7 13.6 47.0 62.2 115.0 53.1 42.1 102.2
2001 37.0 22.0 43.8 18.1 12.1 44.2 60.6 110.2 52.1 40.3 104.3
2002 35.4 20.8 39.9 17.5 11.5 43.0 58.6 104.1 51.0 38.8 105.3

- Not available
a. Data for States in which marital status was not reported have been inferred and included with data from the remaining States.
b. Data for 1980 through 1984 are based on 100 percent of births in selected States and on a 50-percent sample of births in all other States.
c. Rates for 1990 based on data for 48 States and the District of Columbia that reported Hispanic origin on the birth certificate.
d. Includes all persons of Hispanic origin of any race.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics. (2003). Births: Final data for 2002. National Vital Statistics Reports, 52(10).


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