Jul 272011

By Teri Walker–

The “traditional” family isn’t as common as it once was, and household sizes continue to shift, recently unveiled census data reveals.

According to 2010 Census reports, the family structure made up of a married mother and father raising their own children under the age of 18 under the same roof in Arizona, has declined from 23 percent in 2000 to less than 20 percent in 2010, while households made up of single parents, divorced parents, adults without children and same-gender partners raising children together are on the rise. There is also a larger number of unmarried couples living together and a greater incidence of multigenerational living, with children either moving back into their parents’ homes, or children taking in their aging parents.

The number of single-parent households has increased from 13.9 percent to 15.3 percent in Arizona, which is higher than the 18 other states reporting household statistics, which average 14.2 percent. The percentage of married couples with no children under the age of 18 has declined from 29.3 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010. Overall, married couples still make up a large percentage of households in Arizona, at 47 percent, while the number of same-sex partners establishing households has increased from .65 percent in 2000 to .88 percent in 2010. Same-sex households have increased 36 percent in Arizona, which puts Arizona sixth among the 18 states for which data is currently available.

Single women living alone with no children rose from 6.3 percent to 8.1 percent of Arizona households. The number of households led by men with no children increased, as did those of men and women raising kids alone. More than 3.2 percent of Arizona households have grandchildren living in the home, and 1.8 percent of families have at least one stepchild in the home.

Nationwide, the number of children continues to decline. Children make up 24 percent of the overall population, which is a new low for kid numbers. The previous national low was 26 percent in 1990. It’s projected by the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group in Washington, that the share of children in the American population will decrease to 23 percent by 2050, while the elderly population, aged 65 and older, is expected to increase from 13 to 19 percent of the population in the same timeframe. This trend shift means there is a smaller share of children in the U.S. than ever recorded before, which translates to a shrinking workforce in the future, even as the senior population requiring support will be ever larger. Bucking the national trend, Arizona showed some of the biggest increases in child populations, contributed largely to children born to immigrant Hispanic parents.

Also nationally, the average household size declined from 2.62 people in 2000 to 2.59 in 2010. This is partly because of the increase in one-person households, which rose from 25 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010, more than double the percentage of 1960, which was 13 percent. The percentage of children under 18 living with two married parents declined to 66 percent in 2010, down from 69 percent in 2000.

Across the U.S., 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. Before the recession, in 2007, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of the same segment. Of the 7.5 million children who lived with a grandparent in 2010, 22 percent did not have a parent present in the household.