Equity & Diversity

Demography Report Finds Educational Attainment Up

By Linda Jacobson — April 02, 1997 1 min read

Americans are better educated than ever before, according to a new compilation of statistics released last week by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

But more children are living with only one parent, and more people are receiving assistance from the government in the form of food stamps or Medicaid.

The Census Bureau report, “How We’re Changing--Demographic State of the Nation,” outlines the major social and economic trends in the country.

The report includes good news in the form of previously released statistics on educational attainment. In 1995, 82 percent of all adults over 25 had completed high school, and 23 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree or more. Both figures are the highest ever recorded in the United States.

Also, the gap in high school completion between whites and blacks ages 25 to 29 has closed.

The proportion of whites in that age group with a high school diploma remained at 87 percent in 1995, the same as it has been for the past decade. But the proportion of blacks in the same category rose from 81 percent in 1985 to 87 percent in 1995.

Other trends are less positive.

Between 1970 and 1995, the proportion of children under age 18 living with only one parent more than doubled, growing from 12 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 1995, the report shows.

The bureau attributes that growth to rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of children living with a parent who has never been married.

The information for the report is based on three documents: the Current Population Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the Housing Vacancy Survey.

Shifts in Child Care

The report also documents recent trends in child care.

From 1988 to 1991, the proportion of children through age 5 who were attending child-care centers or preschools dropped from 26 percent to 23 percent, while the proportion of youngsters receiving child care from their fathers increased. Researchers suspect the shift may have been due to a jump in the proportion of fathers who were unemployed or working only part time.

But between 1991 and 1993, the use of centers rose again, to 30 percent, while child care provided by fathers declined.

The use of family child-care providers has also been falling, from 23 percent in 1988 to a historically low 18 percent in 1993.

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