Home Alone — a New U.S. Standard

Nuclear Families Fall Below 25% of Households, Census Says

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 15, 2001 (Zenit.org).- For the first time, the number of households with Americans living alone surpassed the number of married-couple households with children, the New York Times reported today.

That results from a number of factors, like many men and women delaying both marriage and having children, more couples living longer after their adult children leave home, and the number of single-parent families growing much faster than the number of married couples, U.S. Census data from last year reveal.

The number of families headed by women grew nearly five times faster in the 1990s than the number of married couples with children.

Demographers expressed surprise that the number of unmarried couples in the United States nearly doubled in the 1990s, to 5.5 million couples from 3.2 million in 1990. Some of those couples have children.

«This data shows we need to regain the importance of marriage as a social institution,» said Bridget Maher, a marriage and family policy analyst at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. «People are disregarding the importance of marriage and the importance of having a mother and father who are married.»

The percentage of married-couple households with children under 18 has declined to 23.5% of all households in 2000 from 25.6% in 1990, and from 45% in 1960, said Martin O´Connell, chief of the Census Bureau´s fertility and family statistics branch. The number of Americans living alone comprise 26% of all households.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the University of Michigan, was quoted by the Times as saying, «Being married is great, but being married with kids is tougher in today´s society with spouses in different jobs and expensive day care and schools.»

The number of married-couple families with children grew by just under 6% in the 1990s. In contrast, households with children headed by single mothers, which account for nearly 7% of all households, soared up by 25% in the decade.

The census data showed other trends:

–Unmarried couples represent 9% of all unions, up from 6% a decade ago.

–The number of nonfamily households, which consist of people living alone or with people who are not related, make up about one-third of all households. They grew at twice the rate of family households in the 1990s.

–The median age of the first marriage for men has increased to 27 years old from 22 in 1960. For women, it has increased to 25 years old from 20 in 1960.

–The median age of the country´s population rose to 35.3 years old, the highest it has ever been.

–The overall Asian population in the United States grew by 48% in the 1990s.

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