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For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 17, 2016

"The Majority of Children Live With Two Parents, Census Bureau Reports"

Press Release Number CB16-192

NOV. 17, 2016  — The majority of America’s 73.7 million children under age 18 live in families with two parents (69 percent), according to new statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is compared to other types of living arrangements, such as living with grandparents or having a single parent.

The second most common family arrangement is children living with a single mother, at 23 percent. These statistics come from the Census Bureau’s annual America’s Families and Living Arrangements table package.

Between 1960 and 2016, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88 to 69. Of those 50.7 million children living in families with two parents, 47.7 million live with two married parents and 3.0 million live with two unmarried parents.

During the 1960-2016 period, the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled from 8 to 23 percent and the percentage of children living with only their father increased from 1 to 4 percent. The percentage of children not living with any parent increased slightly from 3 to 4 percent.

“Despite the rise of childbearing outside of marriage, the majority of children in the United States still live with two married parents,” Jonathan Vespa, demographer in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch at the Census Bureau, said.

The data comes from the 2016 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which has collected statistics on families for more than 60 years. The data shows characteristics of households, living arrangements, married and unmarried couples, and children.

Other highlights:


  • White householders make up 79 percent of all households in the United States, down from 89 percent in 1970. Black and Hispanic householders each make up 13 percent of households, while Asian householders comprise 5 percent. (Hispanics may be any race; percentages do not add to 100.)
  • Households have grown smaller over time, reflecting the decrease in family size and the rise of living alone. The average number of people living in each household has declined from 3.3 people in 1960 to 2.5 today.
  • Today 28 percent of households have just one person living in them — an increase from 13 percent in 1960.

Marriage and family

  • The median age when adults first marry continues to rise. In 2016, it was age 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women, up from ages 23.7 and 20.5, respectively, in 1947.
  • In 2016, almost one third of all adults (32 percent) have never been married, up from about one quarter (23 percent) in 1950.
  • Of the 11 million families with children under age 18, and no spouse present, the majority are single mothers (8.5 million). Single fathers comprise the remaining 2.5 million single parent families.
  • Married couples make up 68 percent of all families with children under age 18, compared to 93 percent in 1950.
  • About 62 percent of children have a mother who works outside the home, slightly less than those with a father who works outside the home (66 percent).

Older adults

  • Almost 14 million older adults live alone, representing 29 percent of all adults age 65 or older.
  • Householders age 65 or older outnumber those under age 30 by almost two to one (31 million versus 15.8 million).
  • More older adults live with their spouse today than in 1967. Among those age 75 or older, 67 percent of men and 33 percent of women lived with a spouse in 2016, up from 59 percent and 21 percent, respectively, in 1967.

Unmarried couples

  • More than 8 million opposite-sex couples live together without being married.
  • About 38 percent of opposite-sex unmarried couples have a child under age 18 living with them.
  • Statistics about same-sex couples are available from the American Community Survey.

About the Current Population Survey

The statistics presented in this report are from the 2016 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement. The Current Population Survey, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States. The survey also provides a wealth of other demographic, social and economic information.



Jenny Porter
Public Information Office

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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