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Living Arrangements of Children: 2004

Report Number P70-114
Rose M. Kreider


Children live in a variety of family arrangements that usually reflect the marriage, divorce, and remarriage patterns of their parents. In addition, one-third of children today are born to unmarried mothers and may grow up in single-parent families or spend significant portions of their lives with other relatives or stepparents.1 This report examines the diversity of children’s living arrangements in American households.3 The data are from the household relationship module of the SIPP collected in 2004 and they update an earlier report based on data from the 2001 SIPP Panel.3

Detailed information was obtained on each person’s relationship to every other person in the household, permitting the identification of various types of relatives and of parent-child and sibling relationships. This report describes extended family households with relatives and nonrelatives (whose presence may influence a child’s development and contribute to the household’s economic well-being). It also examines the degree to which children are living in single-parent families or with stepparents, adoptive parents, or no parents while in the care of another relative or a guardian.

The statistics in this report are based on national-level estimates of children and their living situations from June through September 2004. The findings pertain to all noninstitutionalized individuals under age 18, regardless of their marital or parental status.

Various factors influence the diversity of children’s living arrangements, including parental death, divorce, remarriage, births to unmarried women, cohabitation (of unmarried parents), and multigenerational families. Immigration may also influence the type of household and family in which children grow up (when families provide housing for their immigrant relatives and friends, for instance). This factor is evident in the living arrangements of Hispanic children, and Hispanics constitute a large component of new immigrants to the United States.4 Cultural factors, demographic characteristics, and family formation patterns underlie differences in current and future family structure.5

1 “The Council of Economic Advisers on the Changing American Family,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2000, pp. 617–628.

2 The data in this report were collected from June through September of 2004 in the second wave (interview) of the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation. The population represented (the population universe) is the civilian noninstitutionalized population under 18 living in the United States. Detailed tables for this report can be accessed on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Website, <>.

3 Rose M. Kreider and Jason Fields, Living Arrangements of Children: 2001, Current Population Reports, P70-104, Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.

4 Because Hispanics may be any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap with data for the White, Black, and Asian populations. Based on the population under 18 in the 2004 SIPP, 23 percent of the White-alone population, 4 percent of the Black-alone population, and 2 percent of the Asian-alone population were also Hispanic.

Larsen, Luke J. The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2003, Current Population Reports, P20-551, Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004. Available at <>.

5 S. Philip Morgan et al., “Racial differences in household and family structure at the turn of the century,” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98, January 1993, pp. 798–828.


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