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Over the last few decades the trend in the US has been toward smaller households, with fewer of them occupied by families and married couples, and more people living alone. This is the conclusion of a new report from the US Census Bureau.
The report, which describes trends in living arrangements and the composition of families and households, uses data from the 2012 Current Population Survey and the 2011 American Community Survey.
It finds households and families are getting smaller, and married households tend to be older and now make up a smaller share of all households.
It also suggests that the increase in living alone and the fall in married households is probably because more people are putting off a first marriage until they are older.
Co-author Jamie Lewis, a demographer in the fertility and family statistics branch of the US Census Bureau, and colleagues, highlight the varied and complex nature of today's American families and living arrangements, and how they have changed over time.
For instance, between 1970 and 2012 in the US:
The authors - who define a family household as comprising two or more people related by birth, marriage or adoption - note that it is now difficult to talk about a single kind of family or one predominant type of living arrangement in the US.
The report also documents how American family and living arrangements were affected by the last economic recession, from 2007 to 2009, as Jamie Lewis explains:
"During the recession, economic well-being worsened for families with children. Home ownership among families declined, while food stamp receipt and parental unemployment increased.
Even after the recession officially ended in 2009, these measures remained worse than before it began."
The report highlights some large regional variations, for instance in states experiencing a larger-than-average rise in families with an unemployed parent between 2005 and 2011. These ranged from 148% for Nevada, with 95% for Hawaii, and 93% for Florida, to 56% for Colorado and 54% for North Carolina.
The number of householders with kids under 18 who owned their homes fell by 15% to 20.8 million between 2005 and 2011. Some states showed even sharper declines over the period: in Michigan it was 23%, in Arizona and California 22%, Ohio 20% and New Hampshire 19%.
The recession also affected other aspects of family life. For example, in 2007, before the recession started, 24% of married mothers stayed home to look after the children. This fell to 23% in 2009 and only went back to 24% in 2012.
Curiously, the pattern for married fathers who stayed at home did not change between 2006 and 2010, then rose a little in 2011 and 2012 to reach a level higher than it was at the start of the recession. However, these changes are to a figure that remains under 1%.
The report highlights how households and family structures are evolving in the US. For example:
The authors also note that more young adults aged between 25 and 34, particularly men, are now living with their parents. For men, this proportion rose from 13% to 17% between 2000 and 2012. For women, the growth went from 8% to 10% over the same period.
However, a previous Census Bureau report in 2011 found that this trend for living with parents did not appear to be linked to the recession.Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
"America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2012" (pdf); Jonathan Vespa, Jamie M. Lewis, and Rose M. Kreider; Current Population Reports 2013, P20-570; U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC.
Additional source: United States' Census Bureau.
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4 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265308>
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