Changing Family Structure in America Should Make an Impact on Lawmakers

The numbers from the 2000 U.S. census are trickling out, and the results show shifts in the structure of American households and families that could result in pressuring lawmakers to acknowledge “nontraditional” households and even extend protection to unmarried straight and gay couples.

The number of single person households now makes up 26 percent of the 105 million households in America, surpassing the number of married couple households with children under 18 years old, which makes up 23.5 percent of households. The number of married couple families with children under 18 years old has declined dramatically in the last 40 years from 45 percent of all households in 1960. The number of married couples without children also decreased over the last ten years from 55 percent to 52 percent of all households.

The fastest growing group in America is the unmarried–gay or straight–partners group, which grew 72 percent since 1990, from 3.2 million individuals to 5.5 million individuals in 2000.

The gender gap between women and men decreased, with women making up 51 percent of the population and men comprising 49 percent, as compared to 1990 when the gender gap was 51.3 percent women to 48.7 percent men. The shrinking gap can be attributed to men’s better awareness of health and improvements in men’s healthcare. Also, the number of women who smoke has increased over the last ten years, resulting in more women dying from smoking related deaths. However, life expectancy for women increased to 79.5 years from 78.8 years; life expectancy for men increased to 73.8 years from 71.8 years.


U.S. Census Bureau; Washington Post Ð May 15, 2001; New York Times Ð May 15, 2001; Associated Press Ð May 15, 2001

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