A family is a bond almost everyone on earth shares, but its cultures and patterns differ from every country. For the United States, the families have been more diverse and more baffling than ever. The so-called traditional family structure was prevalent in the 1950s, where the majority of families have two married adults: a breadwinner husband and a domestic wife who are both biological parents of children in their homes. But times have changed since then, as the modern American family structure accepted diversity is the new normal.
Here are some of the notable, interesting facts about family life in America nowadays:
1. Americans are putting off marriage and childbearing.
In 2013, the marriage rate in the United States has reached its all-time low, with only 6.8 marriages emerging per 1,000 people. On average, men have their first marriage when they are 29 years old, and for women, its 27 years old. For people aged 18 to 32, only 26% of them were married, but in 1960, 65% of Americans were. And only around 51% of all adults in the country are currently married, while back in 1960, the figure was 72%.
In the same year, an average American woman gives birth to her first child when was 25.6 years old. Back in 1970, first-time moms were usually 21.4 years old. Also, the total fertility rate has decreased to 1.9 children per mother, compared to 3.7 children in 1960.
2. Divorce rates soared, causing diversities on American family structure.
The United States has the highest divorce rates in the world. Americans marry, divorce and remarry in a rate not seen anywhere else. In 1950, 78% of households have a married couple, but today it decreased to less than a half. The United States is also home to most one-person households in the world.
Divorces caused great complexities in the American household structure. Turnover of partnerships and remarriage produced a lot of Americans with step-siblings and step-parents.
3. Cohabitation has increasingly become an option for couples, instead of marriage.
The rise of cohabitation in couples is also one of the striking features of American families. More than half of couples move in together before marrying, causing an increase in babies born to unmarried women. In 2011, 41% of births are out of wedlock.
Additionally, divorce rates for couples that lived together first are significantly higher than those who didn’t. That is probably why one out of three children is not living with a father in their home.
This is all because the idea of marriage is intimidating for most Americans due to a number of reasons, like establishing a successful career first before tying the knot.
4. Women empowerment has caused drastic changes in American families.
The stereotypical housewife and stay-at-home mother image have been discouraged through the years. As more women have entered the workforce, 62% of the public view the ideal marriage as one in which the husband and wife both work and share household and parenting duties.
Most couples have matching academic attainment, but 28% of married women are better educated than their male partners. Only 19% of married men are better educated than their female counterparts nowadays – changing the trend drastically compared to the trend forty years ago.
Having career-focused parents, most children are being raised by television, movies, the Internet and video games. An average American has spent 10,000 hours playing video games by the time they reach 21.
5. People from the LGBT community have been parents or are pursuing parenthood.
In 2014, around 37% of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population have had offspring at some point in their lives. Due to sexual preferences, they might have been divorced, had same-sex marriage, or cohabited with a partner – affecting their family structures.
Some LGBT people are pursuing parenthood by surrogacy, adoption or sperm donation. The number of gay couples with children has doubled in the past decade, and over 100,000 same-sex couples are raising children.
6. Intermarriage of people between different races and ethnicity has caused changes in family cultures.
Families have evolved to become socially egalitarian and Americans are breaking the status quo. A growing number of blacks marry whites, Asians and Hispanics marry Americans. In 2010, 15% of marriages in America were between spouses of different race or ethnicity – a rate more than doubles that of the 1980s with only 7%.
Today, we can most likely find a traditional family in immigrant communities, especially Asian-American families. They are less likely to be divorced as compared to Americans in general. 80% of Asian-American children are raised by two married parents and only 16% of them are born out of wedlock.