Number of children living with a single parent continues to rise


Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

WASHINGTON (WWLP) – A recent report by the U.S Census Bureau has found some changes in living arrangements for children.

According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of children living with just their mothers has doubled in the past 50 years, while the number of children under 18 living with two parents has dropped from 85% to 70%. Children living with only a father quadrupled in the same time period, from 1% to 4.5%.

You can learn more about family demographics in the United States on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Prior to 2007 the survey reported children as living with either one parent, or two parents only if the parents were married. In the past the most common living arrangement was the “nuclear” family, children with two parents who are married to each other. In 1968, about 60 million U.S. children under 18 lived with two parents. But this number decreased between 1968 and 2020 when both the percentage and overall number of children living with two parents declined. This living arrangement continued to be the most common for children, but by 2020 the number of children living with two parents had dropped to 51.3 million.

Children living with a mother only is the second most common U.S. living arrangement with 7.6 million (11%) children living with their mother only in 1968 compared to 15.3 million (21%) in 2020. While less common, children living with just the father went from 0.8 million in 1968 to 3.3 million in 2020.

The least common living arrangement is children living not with a parent but with grandparents or other relatives. Some 2 million children lived with no parent in 1968, but in 2020 that number was 3 million. More than half, roughly 55%, had a grandparent in the home.

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