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Families: A Changing Nation

Wed Nov 10 2010
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Many of us are curious to see how our experiences compare with those of others. We want to know how many children people have, how many adults live with their parents, or how old people are when they first get married.

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The U.S. Census Bureau has collected detailed data on the nation’s gradually changing family and household composition since the 1950s. It gives us an inside look at the people living in our nation and tells us how our households are changing.

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Today we released America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2010, which shows socioeconomic characteristics of our nation — average household size, median age at first marriage and overall percentage of adults that are married, just to name a few. The data show continuations of long-term patterns over the last decade, such as the increase in median age at first marriage.

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Year to year these changes may seem insignificant, but if you look at our historical tables you can see how the nation has evolved. In 1960, the average household size was 3.33, and men and women married in their early 20s. Only 6 million children lived with one parent (according to 1960 Census data) and 7 million people lived alone.

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Today, our average household size is 2.59, men and women are waiting until their late 20s to marry, 20 million children live with one parent and 31 million people live alone.

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Researchers and policy makers use these data to better understand how our households are composed and how we live.

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