In data released on June 29, the Census Bureau noted a dramatic 64% increase from 1991 to 2009 in children living with at least one grandparent. The U.S. Census Bureau brief, Living Arrangements of Children: 2009, reports that in 2009, 7.8 million children (11% of all children) lived with at least one grandparent, compared to 4.7 million children (7%) in 1991.
The authors of the report also found that children living with grandparents are more likely to live in poverty (22%) than children in households without grandparents (20%). The report has implications for policy during the current recession, noting that such living arrangements may occur to alleviate financial hardship of a parent or if the grandparent needs assistance. There was also variation among the types of families in which the children and grandparents lived. Fourteen percent of two-parent households with grandparents present were living in poverty, as were 13% of single father and grandparent households. Fully 31% of grandparent-only households were poor. Twenty-five percent of children living with a single mother and a grandparent were impoverished. This is compared to 41% of children living with a single mother and no grandparent, suggesting grandparents often provide economic resources.
The report also notes that about 7 in 10 grandparent-grandchild households and extended family households received public assistance, including public housing and rental assistance. Overall, 46% of households with children received some type of public assistance.
Also striking are the persistent differences in the living arrangements of children among racial and ethnic groups. The percentage of two-parent households in 2009 was 69%. Just 37% of black children lived with two parents compared to 75% of white children and 67% percent of Hispanic children. In 2009, 24 million, or 24%, of children lived with only their mother. Black children had the highest single mother household percentage at 50%, while Hispanic, white, and Asian children followed with 26%, 17%, and 8%, respectively. Seven percent of white children, 14% of both Asian and Hispanic children and 17% of black children lived with a least one grandparent.
In 2009, 23.1 million children (31% of all children) lived with at least one unmarried parent, 7% of whom lived with an unmarried parent who was cohabiting with another adult. Sixteen percent of all children lived with a stepparent, stepsibling or half sibling. Most children (78%) lived with at least one sibling. By race, 12% of Asian children, 24% of white children, 35% of Hispanic children, and 59% of black children lived with at least one unmarried parent.
Living Arrangements of Children: 2009 studies the variety of children’s living arrangements in American households, based primarily on data collected in 2009 from the household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The report examines and compares 1880 to 1940 data from the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series; 1970, 1980 through 1995 Current Population Survey data; and 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 SIPP panels.
The data from 1880 to 1970 are at 30-year intervals, the approximate length of generation most closely conforming to census years. The report provides descriptions of extended family households, whose presence may influence a child’s development and contribute to the economic well-being of the household. The report also evaluates the living arrangements between children and parent(s)/stepparent(s)/adoptive parent(s) or no parents, and legal guardians.
Living Arrangements of Children: 2009 is available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-126.pdf