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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

First-Ever Census Bureau Report Highlights Growing Childless Older Adult Population

Press Release Number CB21-TPS.99

AUG., 31, 2021 — A new, first-ever report of its kind released today by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 15.2 million, nearly 1 in 6 (16.5%), adults age 55 and older are childless, and the levels of childlessness among older adults are expected to increase. The report Childless Older Americans: 2018 uses data from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine the circumstances (socioeconomic status and demographic charac­teristics), potential caregiving and financial support from family and the community, and health and well-being of child­less older adults. The report also compares these characteristics to those of biological parents of the same age group.

Highlights include:

  • Of all adults ages 55 to 64, 19.6% were childless, compared to 15.9% of those ages 65 to 74, and 10.9% of those 75 years and older.
  • Childless adults as a group were more educated than parents. About 38.4% have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.0% of parents. At the lowest education level, 34.5% of childless adults have a high school degree or less, compared to 43.3% of parents. Additionally, a greater share of childless adults 55 years and older were in the labor force, 43.7% compared to 40.1% of parents.
  • Among childless adults ages 55 and older, 85.2% were White alone; 79.0% were non-Hispanic White; 9.2% were Black alone; 3.4% were Asian alone; 2.2% were all other races or reported multiple races; and 6.5% were Hispanic (of any race).
  • About 22.1 million adults 55 years and older live alone, among whom 6.1 million were childless. This means that 27.7% of older adults who lived alone were childless. Childlessness was more common among older men living alone than among older women; 34.3% of older men and 23.6% of older women living alone were childless.
  • Living alone is more common among older adults who were childless than their counterparts who were parents. About 62.5% of parents 55 years and older lived with a spouse, compared to 40.2% of childless older adults.
  • Poverty rates are higher among childless older adults than they are among older parents. About 12.4% of childless adults had family incomes below the poverty line. Among parents, a greater share of mothers had family incomes below the poverty line (10.5%) than fathers (7.5%).

The report refers to childless adults as those who have no biological children; parents as those who have biological children; and older adults refers to those 55 years and older. SIPP is a nationally representative panel survey administered by the Census Bureau that collects information on the short-term dynamics of employment, income, household composition, and eligibility and participation in government assistance programs.

This report was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging.

No news release associated with this report. Tip sheet only.



Mike Friedrich
Public Information Office
301-763-3030 or
877-861-2010 (U.S. and Canada only)

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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