Indicator List for Marriage and Cohabitation

Marriage and Cohabitation

Today’s children are born into and grow up in many different types of families.  For example, four in ten babies in the U.S. are born to unmarried parents – either single or cohabiting. Child Trends tracks and analyzes the changes taking place in the structure of the American family over recent decades and how these changes impact children. We review the research literature, examine trends in the data, conduct qualitative studies, and evaluate programs intended to promote and support healthy relationships within and outside of marriage.

Indicator List for Marriage and Cohabitation

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Child Care

Among children ages 0-4 whose mothers were employed, 24 percent were primarily cared for by a parent during the hours their mother was working in 2011.

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Child Support Receipt

Among custodial parents with a child support award, the percentage who received full payment of all support owed them in the previous year increased from 37 percent in 1994 to 41 percent in 2009.  

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Family Structure

The proportion of children living with both parents, following a marked decline between 1970 and 1990, has fallen more slowly over the most recent two decades, dropping from 69 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2013.

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Fertility and Birth Rates

 In 2011, the birth rate for women ages 15 to 29 continued to decline across all age groups, following a small peak in 2007.  The fertility rate for all U. S. women is now the lowest it has been since these data have been recorded. 

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Foster Care

In 2012, 400,000 children were in foster care, a 29 percent decline from the 1999 peak of 567,000, and a number lower than that seen in any of the past 25 years.

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Immigrant Children

The population of first- and second-generation immigrant children in the United States grew by 66 percent between 1995 and 2012, to 18.7 million, or one quarter of all U.S. children.

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Secure Parental Employment

As of 2011, three in ten children (27 percent) did not have at least one resident parent employed full-time, year-round. Among children younger than six, one-third (31 percent) were without secure parental employment, and, of children in families headed by single mothers, more than half (59 percent).

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Unintended Births

Between 2006 and 2010, more than one-third (37 percent) of all births in the United States were unintended, according to mothers’ reports.  Of these, nearly two-thirds of unintended births were mistimed, rather than unwanted.