The U.S. Census Bureau puts out annual authoritative reports on family growth trends and America’s living arrangements. We pay very close attention to these at Focus on the Family, as we strive to be well-studied students of family change.

The Census Bureau just released a major update at the end of May and it contains some very concerning data on decades-long trend lines that all citizens should take note of.

First, it shows a steady and marked decline in the number of married two-parent families, which social science consistently shows serve as the bedrock of a growing and thriving society made up of well-adjusted youth.

In 1970, 40.3% of all homes in the U.S. were married couples with children. In 2000, that number declined to 24%. By 2022, the latest year the Census Bureau has data for, it dropped to a stunning 17.8 %, an all-time low. This is a startling 56% decline since 1970, a wholly unsustainable trend line for a free and prosperous nation committed to raising healthy, thriving children. You can see this below in the bottom, darkest shaded boxes.

Married couples as a whole are also shrinking too, which the social sciences tell us translate into greater relational and family instability and other harmful social outcomes. In 1970, just over 30% of homes were married couples without children. That is now down to precisely 29%.

Notably, the largest shift in family arrangements has been in new alternative family forms, referenced by the Census Bureau as “other family households.” These forms existing outside the married-mother-and-father-raising-their-own-children ideal have increased 64% since 1970, from 10.6% in that year to 17.4% today.

But the biggest shift overall is the profound growth trends in men and women choosing to live by themselves. The number of men choosing to live alone has skyrocketed 136% since 1970 and for women it has grown by a much smaller, but still significant, 37%.

This means we are seeing a remarkable increase in isolation of men from domestic family forms. Anthropologists and sociologists have told us that any society’s original and most pressing social problem is the unattached male. Men who do not reside in families founded on marriage to a wife are men who do not tend to settle down and direct their physical and sexual energy in pro-social directions. This truth has a sociological and biological basis.

This is why the domestic-living trend lines matter so much for any nation and ours in the United States are moving in the wrong directions. This should concern every citizen and compel us to investigate various ways for reversing these harmful developments.


Image from Shutterstock.