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Single Parenting Statistics On The Rise

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The Census department of the U.S. government has many vehicles for obtaining statistics nationwide. Whether it be the official U.S. Census, the Current Population Survey (CPS), or the American Community Survey (ACS), one thing is certain: single parent households are on the rise. These single parenting statistics are crucial to determining population demographics and areas where people may be vulnerable to poverty.

The U.S. Census

The census is taken twice every 10 years (dicennial) and the last was in the year 2000. The findings from the U.S. Census from 1970, when it was first established, to 2000 indicates that the number of female single family households has increased steadily over the years, with mothers who have never been married now outnumbering single female heads of households that have divorced.

In the 2000 Census it is estimated that 54.5 million were married couple households. Another 12.9 million were female single parent head of households. This outnumbered the male single parent household by 3 to 1, with male single parenting averaging 4.4 million households. This was a 10% increase in single female parent households and a 23% increase in single male parent households since the 1990 Census.

The Current Population Survey

This survey shows the same trends. Traditional family households with two or more people related by birth, marriage, or adoption decreased from 85% to 68% throughout the U.S. At the same time there was an increase in single parenting statistics from 9% to 28% overall.

The American Community Survey

This survey had some of the more interesting single parenting statistics. It followed the same trends, but was also able to break them down by states in some cases. In 2003 it was estimated that four cities actually had approximately 50% of female-headed households as compared to the total respondents of this survey. They were: Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, and Baltimore.

In addition, these single parenting statistics broke down the poverty levels from single female heads of households by ethnicity. In 2003, Hispanics and American Indians were at 46% and 47% respectively in the poverty category of female heads of households. Black female heads of household were at 42% and White Non-Hispanics at 29%. These parenting statistics clearly show the link between poverty and single heads of households.

Many different agencies use these single parenting statistics to determine need and demographics of their constituents. The Department of Education uses it to decide where to issue grants in high poverty areas. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses it to pinpoint programs for low-income housing assistance. Other social programs like the Nation School Lunch Program and even Social Security look at these parenting statistics to help meet the needs of households that are at risk for living in poverty.


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