Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|For First Time, Nuclear Families Drop Below 25% of Households|
|05/15/01 at 13:36:14|
|For First Time, Nuclear Families Drop Below 25% of Households|
By ERIC SCHMITT
The New York Times
WASHINGTON, May 14 — For the first time, less than a quarter of the households in the United States are made up of married couples with their children, new census data show.
That results from a number of factors, like many men and women delaying both marriage and having children, more couples living longer after their adult children leave home and the number of single-parent families growing much faster than the number of married couples.
Indeed, the number of families headed by women who have children, which are typically poorer than two- parent families, grew nearly five times faster in the 1990's than the number of married couples with children, a trend that some family experts and demographers described today as disturbing.
The new data offer the 2000 census' first glimpse into the shifting and complicated makeup of American families and carry wide-ranging implications that policy makers and politicians are already struggling to address.
With more communities having fewer households with children, public schools often face an increasingly difficult time gathering support for renovating aging buildings and investing in education over all. Voters in Cleveland last week approved $380 million in levies to fix city schools, but only after two months of exhaustive lobbying by civic leaders.
"This may have something to do with why our education system is not up to snuff," said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Oftentimes, those parents who still are invested in the schools don't have the money or influence to change things."
Demographers expressed surprise that the number of unmarried couples in the United States nearly doubled in the 1990's, to 5.5 million couples from 3.2 million in 1990. Some of those couples have children.
Many conservative groups point to the increase as well as the statistics on single-parent households as troubling indicators of deeper societal problems.
"This data shows we need to regain the importance of marriage as a social institution," said Bridget Maher, a marriage and family policy analyst at the conservative Family Research Council. "People are disregarding the importance of marriage and the importance of having a mother and father who are married."
Ms. Maher and other conservatives point to the findings as justification for the enactment of policies that they say would strengthen the family, like eliminating the so-called marriage penalty in the tax code.
The decades-long decline in the overall number of American households with children slowed during the 1990's as two of the most troubling trends — divorce and out-of-wedlock births — moderated, demographers said.
But even with that slowdown, the percentage of married-couple households with children under 18 has declined to 23.5 percent of all households in 2000 from 25.6 percent in 1990, and from 45 percent in 1960, said Martin O'Connell, chief of the Census Bureau's fertility and family statistics branch. The number of Americans living alone, 26 percent of all households, surpassed, for the first time, the number of married- couple households with children.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the University of Michigan, said, "Being married is great, but being married with kids is tougher in today's society with spouses in different jobs and expensive day care and schools."
The number of married-couple families with children grew by just under 6 percent in the 1990's. In contrast, households with children headed by single mothers, which account for nearly 7 percent of all households, increased by 25 percent in the 1990's.
The new census data paint a more detailed picture of the American family in other ways.
Unmarried couples represent 9 percent of all unions, up from 6 percent a decade ago.
"It's certainly consistent with what we've all been noting, the growth in cohabitation in this country, but it also tells us how complex American families are becoming," said Freya L. Sonenstein, director of population studies at the Urban Institute in Washington and a visiting fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.
The number of nonfamily households, which consist of people living alone or with people who are not related, make up about one-third of all households. They grew at twice the rate of family households in the 1990's.
Demographers pointed to several factors to explain the figures. People are marrying later, if they marry at all. The median age of the first marriage for men has increased to 27 years old from 22 in 1960; for women, it has increased to 25 years old from 20 in 1960, said Campbell Gibson, a Census Bureau demographic adviser.
The booming economy has allowed more younger people to leave home and live on their own. Divorce, while leveling off, has left many middle- age people living alone — at least temporarily. Advances in medicine and bulging stock portfolios have permitted many elderly people to live independently longer.
"It's easier for a young person to start out on his own or live in a group home," said Mr. O'Connell. "And the elderly population is healthier and economically better off."
Census officials said the median age of the country's population increased to 35.3 years old, the highest it has ever been. This reflects the influence of the so-called baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964. The most rapid increase in size of any age group was the 49 percent jump in the population 45-to-54 years old.
While an influx of immigrants and other foreign-born residents with larger, younger families held down this aging indicator, several other statistics underscore the demographic and marketing power the baby boomers wield as they enter their peak earning years. For example, the share of owner-occupied housing increased to 66 percent in 2000 compared with 64 percent in 1990.
"Baby boomers are driving the increase in owner-occupied housing," said Jeffrey S. Passel, a demographer at the Urban Institute, a social policy research organization. "Ten years from now, they will be pushing pre-retirement homes, and 20 years from now they will cause the Social Security crisis."
The new census data also show that while there are still about 5 million more women than men in the United States, men are narrowing the gap partly because of improved medicine and greater health awareness by men, but also because of slightly higher rates of lung-related deaths among women, primarily due to increased smoking among them, demographers said.
The number of men for every 100 women increased to 96.3 in 2000 from 95.1 in 1990, largely because men are closing the life-expectancy gap with women. As of 1998, the latest figures available from the National Center for Health Statistics, women on average live 79.5 years, up from 78.8 years in 1990.
Men can expect to live 73.8 years, up from 71.8 years in 1990, Mr. Gibson said.
Within the refined demographic profile, there were also intriguing trends among specific racial groups. For instance, the overall Asian population in the United States grew by 48 percent in the 1990's, but the number of Chinese, Indians and Vietnamese doubled or nearly doubled in the decade.
Individual posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Jannah.org, Islam, or all Muslims. All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the poster and may not be used without consent of the author.The rest © Jannah.Org