Married Couples No Longer a Majority of U.S. Households


The "Father Knows Best Family" of the 1950s is no longer the majority of families in the U.S.

Married couples no longer are the majority of U.S. households according to the 2010 U.S. census, the New York Times reports.  For the first time ever, families without a traditional husband-and-wife now comprise 52% of households, with families headed by married couples comprising 48%.

But the misperception that all singles are young is also fading as single adults cover the range of ages from young adults to single seniors.  While the NY Times article reports that most Americans will marry at some point, this snapshot of U.S. family life is a revelation.  In 1950, 78% of all households were headed by a traditional married couple.  Today, that figure is 48%, and changes in life choices are a contributing factor.

The census data reveals that college-educated singles marry other college-educated singles, and they are delaying marriage until their 30s.  Young women with high school diplomas and with a child or children, are choosing increasingly not to marry their baby’s father.  Social scientists believe that the economy is a factor because young male high school graduates tend to be less employable during hard economic times.

These developments in family life have obvious implications for churches.  Single adult ministries that focus only on young singles, or professional singles, are missing big chunks of the single population.  Churches that seek to attract families, need to realize that the definition of family is broader that mom, dad, and the kids.  More often it is mom and the kids.

Same sex marriages, while not mentioned in the article, will be a rising demographic as more states approve same-sex unions of some type.  We in churches may or may not like these trends, but the reality on the ground is that these are the folks who make up our community, and non-traditional families need our ministry, too.

What do you think?  What implications do you see for church ministry in this changing world in which we live?

5 thoughts on “Married Couples No Longer a Majority of U.S. Households”

  1. When I first heard the claim that I must write to my Congressman to endorse pending legislation regarding marriage, I thought it was a good idea, but then, I prayed and I came to the opposite conclusion.

    So it was that the “defense of marriage” act (DOMA) passed without my endorsement, perhaps because I did not speak out on the subject.

    You see, I have been interested in politics for many years and have realized that – as far as our Congress is concerned, asking them to defend my religious beliefs is about as efffective as my prayers to change the direction of the wind. And asking them to defend what God has ordained seems to me to fly in the face of everything we call – holy.

    Thus, it does not surprise me that we are experiencing a new reality, that when we turn from prayer to petitioning politicians, we should expect to sense the the wrath of God. God does move in “mysterious ways” I was taught as a child and this seems to me to be more proof of an old adage.

    If Christian marriage is to be held up as the more perfect example of life as it has been ordained by God, then it ought to follow that it is endorsed by those of us who live by His precepts. From my own perspective, it seems that we have much to learn from His chastisement.

  2. I am quite blessed that I belong to a church that supports – but more importantly understands the complexity of being a single parent and person. I am equally blessed that I do not find myself judged because of my singleness, but rather accepted and respected for the person I am.

  3. Anyone in small church ministry has been aware of these facts on a personal level as we deal with people on a regular basis who fit the description in the article. Another category not mentioned is the number of adults choosing to live together without getting married. Small churches must find ways to minister to people who don’t fit the “old fashioned” mold.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  4. Americans continue to make excuses for their actions, when are they going to understand the seriousness of what is taking place. Every great empire or civilization has fallen because the family was destroyed. Move faster to destroy the structure so that China can take her rightful place as the next world power…Move fast I say.

  5. I am a lifelong single male. I make good income. I travel a lot for work. Also after college I worked on a military base for eleven years and there were very few eligible single women. I am used to being alone and can retire tomorrow if I want at 52. I had a few girlfriends, one of whom was serious, but we were both not willing to compromise.

    I last saw that the birth rate in America is still around 2.0, so we are not yet set for a decline in population. One must look at the warming of the planet and the congestion on the roads, the paving over of wilderness and the fouling of the air and water and ask if we really need to keep expanding on earth?

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