Less than half of children in America live in a "traditional" family headed by a mom and dad in their first marriage, a new analysis shows.
The Pew Research Center
analysis of American Community Survey and Census data shows 46 percent of children under 18 are in families headed by heterosexual parents married for the first time – a marked change from 1960, when 73 percent of children fit that description, and in 1980, when 61 percent did.
"Rapid changes in American family structure have altered the image" of families, the researchers say. "While the old 'ideal' involved couples marrying young, then starting a family, and staying married till 'death do they part', the family has become more complex, and less 'traditional.'"
Pew researchers declared "one of the largest shifts in family structure" is the 34 percent of children living with an unmarried parent — up from 9 percent in 1960, and 19 percent in 1980. In most cases, Pew researchers say, the unmarried parents are single.
But Pew researchers report 4 percent are living with cohabitating parents, according to the 2013 Census Population Survey.
"Because of concerns about the quality of the … [American Community Survey] data on same-sex marriage, we do not separate out the very small number of children whose parents are identified as in this type of union, but instead fold them into this 'single parent' category, as well," the Pew researchers noted.
The remaining 5 percent children aren't living with either parent, Pew reports; in most cases, they live with a grandparent, the analysis showed.
The analysis also found the share of children born outside of marriage is now 41 percent, up from 5 percent in 1960 – and that 15 percent of children are living with two parents in a "remarriage."
The researchers say the 2013 Current Population Survey found 6 percent of all children are living with a step-parent.
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