Report: A Strong ‘Resurgence’ of the Traditional Two-Parent American Family

A new report reveals some good news about the comeback of the American family – the number of children living with two parents increased last year. 

In a blog post titled The Resurgence of the Two-Parent Family for The Institute for Family Studies, research psychologist Nicholas Zill noted data from “the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2023, the proportion of children in two-parent families increased to 71%. The fraction in single-parent families decreased to 25%, while the proportion with neither birth parent declined slightly to under 4%.” 

Two years ago, Zill discovered that the number of children living in a traditional two-parent family had stopped declining.

According to census data, the number of children under 18 living with two parents had fallen from 88% in 1960 to just over two-thirds in 2005. 

By 2020, the proportion of children living with two parents gradually started to recover, Zill explained, reaching 70%. 

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The research psychologist and Institute for Family Studies senior fellow also examined where 15 to 17-year-olds were living. 

“The fact that these older teens were still living with their married biological parents means that the vast majority grew up with them since birth. Some may have been born to unmarried parents who subsequently got married during the student’s childhood. And some may have experienced parental conflicts or temporary separations, but not the kind of conflict that resulted in permanent splits. Their parents were able to work things out and the marriages endured,” Zill wrote. 

He also noted the current trends show the prognosticators who predicted a great increase “in family instability or single parenthood were simply wrong.”

“There seem to be growing numbers of young adults in all racial and ethnic groups who realize the economic, educational, and emotional benefits of marriage for themselves and their future children. As parenthood becomes more selective, the marriage-minded may have an advantage in childbearing,” Zill wrote. 

He also recognized two developments that may lengthen this resurgence of the traditional American family. One is the older age at which adults now become parents, and two, the increased number of immigrants who are now in the country. 

“Women and men who begin having children in their 30s and 40s are more likely to marry beforehand and stay married,” Zill wrote. “Likewise, recent immigrants have shown a propensity to marry before having kids and then to remain married.”

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