See Census Comparison
Tables for 1990 and 2000
August 17, 2005
living takes the lead in national household types
published today in the Washington Times reports that
solo-adult households have displaced two-parent families with children
as the most common kind of U.S. household, the Census Bureau reported
The change demonstrates "the growing complexity" of American households,
researchers said in a new report, "Examining American Household
Composition: 1990 and 2000."
"It's breathtaking how many people still think that the 'mom, pop and
two kids' is the majority of households," said Peter Francese, the
founder of American Demographics magazine.
Nuclear-family households -- two married parents and a child -- were the
most common as recently as 1990, when there were 25 million such
But by 2000, nuclear-family households fell to second place, both
because there were almost a half-million fewer of these type of homes
and because the number of single-adult households surged past 27
Married households without children remained the third most common, with
20 million in 1990 and 22 million in 2000.
Mr. Francese, who has studied U.S. demographic trends for 35 years, said
single-adult households are continuing to grow and might even hit 34
million by the 2010 census.
This is because people are most likely to live alone "at either end of
the life cycle" -- in youth or as senior citizens -- he said, and baby
boomers are just starting to move into their 60s.
The sex disparity -- more women live alone than men -- is also likely to
continue, he said. Women are most likely to live alone because of the
death or divorce of a partner. Already, among those 65 or older, there
are 6 million more women than men.
In contrast, he said, men are most likely to live alone if they've never
married, and both widowers and divorced men are likely to find a
However, not all of those adults living alone are living completely
alone, said Mr. Francese, who tracks trends for the Ogilvy & Mather
marketing communications firm.
Professional, commuter couples might live alone during the week, but
share weekends together, he said. Single parents might regularly have
their children in the home, and single adults might have lengthy visits
from friends or lovers.
"There is a tremendous diversity in this [living-alone] group," he said.