Average US Household Size Declines to 2.6

October 8, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Hispanic | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

The number of people living alone in America rose from 17% in 1970 to 27% in 2007, and the average household size declined from 3.1 people in 1970 to 2.6, according the latest 2007 figures recently released by the US Census Bureau.


The new report, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007,” also found that nearly one-fourth of all married-couple families in the US have a stay-at-home mother, and that stay-at-home moms are more likely to be younger, Hispanic and foreign-born than mothers in the labor force.

Additional findings about stay-at-home mothers:

  • Stay-at-home moms were younger than other mothers – 44% were under age 35, compared with 38% of mothers in the labor force.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of stay-at-home mothers were Hispanic, compared with 16% of mothers in the labor force.
  • Stay-at-home mothers were less likely than mothers in the labor force to be non-Hispanic White (60% of stay-at-home moms compared with 69% in the labor force) or Black (4% compared with 9%).
  • About one third (34%) of stay-at-home mothers were foreign-born, while less than one-fifth (19%) of the other mothers were foreign-born.
  • A higher percentage of the stay-at-home mothers had an infant in the household (28%), compared with 21% of other mothers.
  • 57% stay-at-home mothers had a preschool age child (under 5), compared with 43% of mothers in the labor force.
  • While 19% of the stay-at-home mothers had less than a high school degree, the same was true for only 8% of mothers who worked.
  • 32% of the stay-at-home mothers had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 38% of the other mothers.

Regional Differences in Family Households

Utah had the highest percentage of households with children under age 18 maintained by married couples (82%), while Washington, DC had the highest percentage of households with children under age 18 maintained by a single parent (54%), the study found.

At the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico (10%) and Maine (9%) had the highest percentages of households with children under age 18 maintained by unmarried partners.


Nationally, 62% of children in married-couple households had both parents in the labor force. The states with the highest percentages included South Dakota, Vermont and North Dakota. In contrast, Arizona and Utah had the lowest percentages.

Other findings in the report:

  • Stay-at-home fathers numbered 165,000 nationally in 2007.
  • 68% of households in 2007 were family households, compared with 81% in 1970.


  • Two-thirds of family groups with children under age 18 (67%) were headed by married couples, compared with 87%? in 1970.


  • The vast majority of fathers who lived with their under-age-18 child also lived with the child’s mother (94%). By comparison, 74% of mothers living with their under-age-18 child also lived with the child’s father.
  • The likelihood that the mother will be the sole adult in a family household rises as children’s ages rise.


About the report: The data for the report are from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) and Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS).The effort represents the first time the Census Bureau has done such an analysis of stay-at-home moms and other aspects of household and family composition. The report defines stay-at-home parents as those who have a child under age 15 and a spouse who was in the labor force all 52 weeks of the year, while they were out of the labor force during the same 52 weeks to care for home and family.

Because this? latest Census Bureau data is from 2007, it does not account for any potential changes in workforce participation that may have resulted from the current recession, which has seen historically high unemployment rates.

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