Thursday, November 10, 2005

Statistics: Living Arrangements

New Census papers on Living Arrangements for Children in 2002, and Families and Living Arrangements in 2002 are out. Both require Adobe Acrobat.

Living Arrangements of Children
In 2002, 72 million children under age 18 lived in the United States—representing 26 percent of the country‚’s civilian noninstitutionalized population. In recent decades, the percentage of children living with both parents has dropped, while the percentage living with a single parent increased (Figure 1). In 2002, 69 percent of children lived with two parents, while 23 percent lived with only their mother and 5 percent lived with only their father. Four percent of children lived without either parent.

Interesting points related to this data:
  • The children of single and no-parent households are far more likely to live in poverty then the children of two-parent households. As long as single and no-parent households continue to rise, it is likely that poverty will continue to rise. I don't subscribe to the "poverty is caused by the breakdown of the family" argument. But this is evidence to reinforce that view, for good or for ill.

  • Children of single parents are less likely to get married, and more likely to get divorced if they do marry. The growth of single parent households is self perpetuating.

  • Single parents are much more likely to vote Democratic (and lower income, so its hard to disentangle these two). They also tend to be much less religious and much more liberal. Is the Emerging Democratic Majority one that no one wants to talk about for risk of being un-PC?

I work on welfare policy for a living. I've been appalled by rising poverty rates in the last four years, and firmly believe that poverty is to a large degree the result of political and economic policies. But as long as one third of children are being raised in single and no-parent households, and that number continues to rise, it is unlikely that we ever defeat poverty in our lifetimes.
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