For more information, see Family in the Infopedia.

Structure and Composition of Family

According to a November 2010 article from the Pew Research center, the last 50 years have given rise to a transformation of the structure and composition of the American family. According to the article: “The pre-iminent family unit of the mid-20th century – mom, dad, and the kids-no longer has the stage to itself. A verity of new arrangements have emerged, giving rise to a broader and evolving definition of what constitutes a family.”

This can be seen by looking at the data alone:

  • In 1960, 72% of American Adults were married. By 2008, that number had fallen to 52.
  • When asked in a survey if marriage is becoming obsolete, about four out of every ten Americans surveyed – some 39% – responded that it was. A similar survey conducted by Time magazine in 1978 found this number to be 28%.
  • 2010 Pew Research Survey found that 52% of Millennials (18-29 year-olds) consider parenthood very important, while only 30% say the same about having a successful marriage.

According to U.S. Census Data published in 2011:

  • The United States led the world in marriage rates in 2008, but it also led the world in divorce rates.
  • In 2008 there were over 10,536,000 single parent households in the United States, with around 30% of these households with children.
  • The state of Nevada leads the country in divorce rates.
  • Washington, DC has the least amount of divorces per 1,000 marriages in the country, followed closely by Massachusetts and Georgia.

Single-Parent Households

A child in a single parent household is more likely to:

  • Experience violence
  • Continue a cycle of poverty
  • Become drug dependent
  • Commit a crime
  • Perform below peers in education

Source: Center For Disease Control and Prevention 2014

Foster Care

For more information, see Foster Care in the Infopedia.

  • On September 30, 2012, there were an estimated 399,546 children in foster care
  • 28% were in relative homes,
  • 47 % were in nonrelative foster family homes
  • 53%  had a case goal of reunification with their families.
  • 51 percent of the children who left foster care in FY 2012 were to be reunited with their parents or primary caretakers
  • 46 percent who left foster care in FY 2012 were in care for less than 1 year


Teen Pregnancy

For more information, see Pregnancy in the Infopedia.

  • U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rates have declined dramatically over the past two decades and are now at historic lows
  • The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the western industrialized world.
  • Since its peak in 1991, the teen birth rate declined by 52%
  • 3 in 10 teen American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.
  • Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school.
  • More than half of teen mothers never graduate from high school.
  • Less than 2 percent of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.
  • About a quarter of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of their first baby.
  • 8 out of 10 teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child.
  • A sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
  • Almost 50 percent of teens have never considered how a pregnancy would affect their lives.
  • Teens had fewer babies in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.
  • If a teen gives birth and keeps the baby, she will be much  more likely than other young women to:
    • drop out of school;
    • receive inadequate prenatal care;
    • rely on public assistance to raise her child;
    • develop health problems;
    • have her marriage end in divorce.
  • Children born to teenage mothers are more likely than children of older mothers to suffer significant disadvantages: medical, psychological, economic, and educational.

Source: and

Teen Abortion

For more information, see Abortion in the Infopedia.

  • Each year, one million American teenagers become pregnant, and 78% of these pregnancies are unintended.
  • 17% of all U.S. abortions are from teenagers
  • Of teenage women who become pregnant – 35% choose to have an abortion

Sources: and

Teen Divorce

For more information, see Divorce in the Infopedia.

  • First marriages by women under age 18 are the most likely group to divorce.
  • The divorce rates are quite high for this group.
  • Recent studies have shown that the brains of teens and those in their early 20s are not fully mature, so to expect someone to make a lifelong commitment and be able to stick to it at this age is just not realistic.

Source: The Divorce Organizer and Planner by Brette Sember

For More Information

Center for Disease Control: Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States. Series Report 23, Number 22. 103pp.