A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Demographics and Family Composition

Indicator 1.

Number of Young Adults

Between 1955 and 1975 the proportion of young adults 14 to 24 years old increased from 15 to 21 percent. The number of 14- to 24-year- olds peaked in 1979 and has been declining since. The proportion of this age group to the rest of the population fell steadily to 16 percent in 1992 to about where it was in 1950.

Population, by selected age groups: 1950 to 1992

Young adults as a percent of total population, by age group: 1950 to 1992

Indicator 2.

Population Projections of Young People

The school-age population (ages 5 to 17) is expected to increase through the end of the century. Increasing numbers of minorities are expected in all age groups. The white non-Hispanic population will decrease by almost 10 percent in the preschool age range and by 3 percent in the college age range. The population of Asian and American Indians in the high school age range is expected to increase by about 51 percent by the year 2000.

Projections of the population, birth to age 24, by race/ethnicity and age: 1990 to 2010

Percent change in 0- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and age: 1992 to 2000

Indicator 3.


People are getting married less and later. Between 1960 and 1988, first-marriage rates for 20- to 24-year-old women dropped by 63 percent. First-marriage rates of women 25 to 44 years old declined between 1965 and 1975, but have remained stable since. Young men, too, married later. The average age for first-time grooms rose from 24 in 1975 to 27 in 1992.

Number and rate of marriages and median age at first marriage: 1950 to 1992

Number of first marriages per 1,000 never-married women, by age: 1960 to 1988

Indicator 4.


The annual number of divorces was 17 percent higher in 1992 than in 1975, following a large increase of 116 percent between 1965 and 1975. The divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 married women) peaked in 1979 at 23. Since then, the divorce rate has dipped to about 21 per 1,000. About 1 million children were involved in divorces in 1988. Since 1975, the number and percentage of children under 18 involved in divorces each year has changed very little.

Number and rate of divorces and number and percent of children under 18 involved annually in divorces: 1950 to 1992

Number of divorces and children under 18 involved in divorces per year: 1950 to 1992

Indicator 5.

Marriage and Divorce Rates

Despite a decline in marriage rates (see indicator 3), the United States still has substantially higher marriage rates than other developed nations. Between 1980 and 1988, marriage rates in only 3 out of 12 other industrialized nations showed larger declines than those in the United States. Most of the other countries showed either minor declines or increases in the marriage rates.

The United States also has a much higher divorce rate than other developed countries, although that rate declined between 1980 and 1988. Since 1980, divorce rates in other countries have risen and the gap between their rates and that of the US has narrowed slightly.

Marriage and divorce rates, selected countries: 1960 to 1988

Marriage and divorce rates in 8 countries: 1988

Indicator 6.


For all age groups shown above, the rates at which women gave birth declined significantly after 1960. For 20- to 29-year-old women, birth rates peaked in 1960 and then fell sharply until 1975. Rates remained stable between 1975 and 1985. During the late 1980s the birth rates for women in their 20s began to rise. Until 1985, the highest birth rate for women giving birth was for ages 20 to 24. In the late 1980s, 25-to 29-year old women had the highest birth rate. In contrast, birth rates (per 1,000) for 30- to 34-year-old women have risen 54 percent since 1975.

Birth rates for minority women are higher than for white women among the younger age groups. In 1990, the number of births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old was 68 for whites and 83 for blacks and other races. Minority women continue to bear children more frequently in their early 20s than in their late 20s.

Birth rates for all women 15 to 44 years old, by age and race: 1950 to 1990

Number of live births per 1,000 women, by age: 1950 to 1990

Indicator 7.

Births to Unmarried Women, by Age and Race

Between 1960 and 1975, birth rates for unmarried minority women 20 to 24 years old dropped significantly. During that time, rates for white women at that age range remained relatively stable. Trends changed after 1975, when birth rates to unmarried white women of all ages began to rise. For unmarried minority women of all ages, birth rates fluctuated between 1975 and 1985, but have risen since 1985.

Birth rates for unmarried women 15 to 44 years old, by age and race: 1950 to 1990

Number of births per 1,000 unmarried women, by age and race: 1950 to 1990

Indicator 8.

Births to Unmarried Women, International Comparisons

Since 1960, the number of births has dropped in many industrialized countries, but the decline has been less severe in the United States. The number of births fell by 8 percent in the United States between 1960 and 1988, but it plunged by 43 percent in Portugal and 38 percent in Italy.

While birth rates in many countries dropped, the number and proportion of births to unmarried women rose rapidly. This is true for the United States. Countries vary widely in the proportion of births to unmarried women. For example, in Greece, only 2 percent of the 1988 births were to unmarried women compared with 45 percent in Denmark. While the United States has the highest marriage rate of any of these countries it also has a high rate of births to unmarried women.

Births to unmarried women as a percentage of all live births, selected countries: 1960 to 1988

Births to unmarried women as a percentage of all live births in 11 countries: 1970 and 1988

Indicator 9.

Pregnancy, Abortion, and Births

Both pregnancy rates and birth rates for young teenagers (15 to 17 years old) rose slightly between 1982 and 1988. However, the proportion of these pregnancies ending in abortions, which rose rapidly in the 1970s, remained stable during the mid-80's. About 41 percent of teenage pregnancies result in abortion.

Number of estimated pregnancies, abortions, and births per 1,000 teenage women, by age: 1972 to 1988

Estimated pregnancy rate and abortion rate for teenage women, by age: 1972 to 1988

Indicator 10.

Families with Children

The proportion of married-couple families with children under 18 declined between 1970 and 1992, while the proportion of single- parent families grew.

Family structures differ significantly among racial/ethnic groups. In 1992, 57 percent of black families with children were single- parent families, compared with 30 percent of Hispanic families and 20 percent of white families. Moreover, about 64 percent of Hispanic families had children under 18, compared with 58 percent of black families and 47 percent of white families.

Number and percent of families with own children under 18 years old, by family type and race/ethnicity of family householder: 1950 to 1992

Percent of families with own children under 18 years old, by family type: 1950 to 1992

Indicator 11.

Children of Single Parents

The proportion of children living in single-parent families increased sharply during the 1970s and continued to rise during the 1980s. In 1992, 24 percent of children lived in single-parent families; only 11 percent did so in 1970. In 1992, 57 percent of black children lived in single-parent homes compared with 19 percent of white children and 29 percent of Hispanic children.

Number and percent of own children under 18 years old in married-couple and single-parent families, by race of family householder: 1950 to 1992

Percent of own children under 18 years old living in single-parent families, by race of family householder: 1965 to 1992

Indicator 12.

Housing Condition of Children

Many homeowners and renters found that housing costs rose more rapidly than income between 1975 and 1989. The increasing burden of housing costs was particularly acute for renters with children. In 1989, about 18 percent of renters with children faced housing costs that consumed at least half of their income, up from 12 percent in 1975, but down from 23 percent in 1987. Of homeowners with children, only about 3 percent had housing costs that consumed half or more of their income. Moreover, an increasing proportion of families with children are renters rather than homeowners. The number of homeowners with children rose by only 4 percent between 1975 and 1989. At the same time, the number of renters with children rose by 35 percent and the number of very low income renters with children rose by 42 percent. As noted in earlier indicators, an increasing proportion of children are being raised in female-headed households whose incomes are typically much less than those of husband-wife families.

Number of households, by housing status and condition and presence of children under 18: 1975 to 1989

Households with children under 18, by housing status and burden of housing cost: 1975 to 1989

Indicator 13.

Living Arrangements of Young Adults

Between 1980 and 1992, the proportion of young adults 18 to 24 years old living at home with their parents grew. The proportion of young people in households with families of their own (family householders) declined. However, females were twice as likely as males to be the family householder or spouse. The proportion of both male and female youths living in other types of arrangements, such as living alone, in group houses, or sharing apartments, rose since 1970.

Living arrangements of 18- to 24-year-olds, by sex: 1960 to 1992

Living arrangements of 18- to 24-year-olds: 1960 to 1992

Introduction Table of Contents Family Income

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