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Juvenile Population Characteristics
Living Arrangements
Q: How has the proportion of children living in single-parent homes changed since 1970?
A: The proportion of children living in single-parent homes more than doubled between 1970 and 2011 from 12% to 27%.

Living arrangements of children, 1970-2011

  Two
parents
Single parent
Neither
parent*
Total Mother
only
Father
only
1970
85%
12%
11%
1%
3%
1971
83
13
12
1
3
1972
83
14
13
1
3
1973
82
15
14
1
3
1974
81
16
14
1
3
1975
80
17
15
2
3
1976
80
17
16
1
3
1977
79
18
16
1
3
1978
78
19
17
2
4
1979
77
18
17
2
4
1980
77
20
18
2
4
1981
76
20
18
2
4
1982
75
22
20
2
3
1983
75
22
20
2
3
1984
75
23
20
2
3
1985
74
23
21
2
3
1986
74
24
21
3
3
1987
73
24
21
3
3
1988
73
24
21
3
3
1989
73
24
22
3
3
1990
73
25
22
3
3
1991
72
26
22
3
3
1992
71
27
23
3
3
1993
71
27
23
3
3
1994
69
27
23
3
4
1995
69
27
23
4
4
1996
68
28
24
4
4
1997
68
28
24
4
4
1998
68
28
23
4
4
1999
68
28
23
4
4
2000
69
27
22
4
4
2001
69
27
22
4
4
2002
69
27
23
5
4
2003
68
28
23
5
4
2004
68
28
23
5
4
2005
67
28
23
5
4
2006
67
28
23
5
5

2007
71
26
23
3
3
2008
70
26
23
4
4
2009
70
26
23
3
4
2011
69
27
24
4
4
Note: * Includes children living with other relatives and those living with non-relatives.
**The Current Population Survey methodology changed to more accurately reflect children’s coresidence with their parents. This change is reflected in the estimates beginning in 2007, where two parent homes include all homes in which a child lives with both parents, married or unmarried (biological, step or adoptive). For more information please read: Improvements to data collection about families in CPS 2007.

[ Graph version ]  [ Excel file ]

  • In 2011, 69% of children were living in two-parent families – a level that has held since the mid-1990s. Most other children lived in single-parent households.
  • While most children in single-parent families lived with their mothers in 2011, an increasing proportion were living with their fathers. Between 1970 and 2011, the proportion of children in single-parent homes living with their fathers grew from 1% to 4%.
  • A never-married parent is becoming more common in single-parent homes. Between 1970 and 2011, the proportion of children living with a never-married parent increased from 7% to 43%.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01201.asp?qaDate=2011. Released on December 17, 2012.

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census. Current Population Survey - Families and Living Arrangements, Historical Tables. Table CH-1: "Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present." [Internet release date: November 2011]. Web-based data files available at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps.html.

 

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