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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 2013 from 12% to 28%.

Living arrangements of children, 1970-2013

   
Single parent
 
Year Two
parents
Total Mother
only
Father
only
Neither
parent*
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%
2010 69% 27% 23% 3% 4%
2011 69% 27% 24% 4% 4%
2012 68% 28% 24% 4% 4%
2013 69% 28% 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 2013, 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 2013, an increasing proportion were living with their fathers. Between 1970 and 2013, 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 2013, the proportion of children living with a never-married parent increased from 7% to 45%.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01201.asp?qaDate=2013. Released on August 01, 2014.

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 2013]. Web-based data files available at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps.html.

 

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