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Census Reports Sharp Increase In Single-Parent Households

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The proportion of single-parent families in the United States has more than doubled in the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Today, the agency says in a new report, 25.7 percent of all households with children under 18 are headed by one adult, up from 21.5 percent of all families with children in 1980 and 12.9 percent in 1970.

On the other hand, the proportion of two-parent households with children has declined by 11 percent since 1970.

The population statistics, gathered in March l984 as part of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, also indicated what agency officials described as "dramatic differences in the household compositions of whites and blacks."

The report notes that while the proportion of single-parent family groups has increased substantially among both whites and blacks since 1970, "the gap between blacks and whites in the proportion of one-parent family groups has widened considerably."

In 1984, 59 percent of all black family groups with children were headed by one parent, compared with 20 percent among whites, according to the report. The corresponding proportions in 1980 were 52 percent for blacks and 17 percent for whites, and in 1970, one-parent situations accounted for 36 percent of black family groups with children but only 10 percent among whites.

"The proportion of black family households maintained by women alone in 1981 was 31 percent, more than three times the proportion among white households," the report goes on to note.

The survey also revealed that while 34 percent of all individuals in black households are under the age of 18, only 24 percent of all individuals in white households are under 18.

Pointing to the increase in the number of single-parent households as a recent phenomenon, the report notes that family households maintained by women with no husbands--by far the largest proportion of single-parent households with children under 18--accounted for 25 percent of all new households added during the four-year period between 1980 and 1984. During the 10-year period between 1970 and 1980, however, women without husbands represented only 18 percent of the total increase in new households.

"Married couples with children under 18 accounted for 29 percent of all households in 1984, slightly below the corresponding proportion of 31 percent for 1980, but substantially less than their 40-percent share of all households in 1970," the report noted, adding that 51 percent of all married couples in the United States have no children under 18.

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