What does the dramatic change in household composition mean for the future?

by Ryan Streeter on December 4, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

We’ve covered this before, but it’s worth a refresher: in just one generation, America has undergone a tremendous demographic shift. Specifically:

Married households with children were 40.3% of all US households in 1970; in 2012, that share had fallen by more than half to 19.6%. Interestingly, the share of households that were married without children has stayed at about 30%.  Other Family Households, usually meaning single-parent families with children, has risen.

That’s Timothy Taylor writing about this Census report from August on family living arrangements.

Overall, as “household” in America decreasingly refers to a family as traditionally understood, the size of households has shifted as well, most notably when you look at the drop in large families and the rise in people living alone:

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 7.07.14 AMHe also notes that the trend of young adults moving back in with their parents began before the recession, an important data point given that conventional wisdom holds this trend was caused by the downturn.

These trends portend much bigger challenges for the future than we usually discuss in our public policy debates.