Census: U.S. Households Older, More Diverse

The prevalence of married households has declined from 71% in 1970 to 49% in 2012.

January 3, 2013

The percentage of U.S. households headed by older adults has grown significantly over the last half century, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.

In 1960, 32% of all U.S. households were headed by 30- to 44-year-olds. But by 2012, that figure had fallen to 26% after peaking at 34% in 1990, according to “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012.”

This report consists of a series of tables from the bureau’s 2012 Current Population Survey. The tables examine the socio-economic characteristics of families and households at the national level and include a series of 13 graphs showing historical trends.

The tables reveal that the share of households headed by older adults expanded as the number of 45- to 64-year-old householders shrank during the 1980s and 1990s but began growing again in 2000. This group now accounts for 39% of households.

The share of households headed by people age 75 and older grew from 6% in 1960 to 10% in 2012.

“These changes are related to baby boomers, that large segment of the American population born between 1946 and 1964,” says Jonathan Vespa, a Census Bureau demographer. “As they moved through young adulthood to middle age and now into older adulthood, we can see an accordion-like effect on the age groups as they expand and shrink.”

A large proportion of older householders live alone. In 2012, more than half of householders 75 and older did so, compared with about one-quarter of householders under age 30.

The largest concentration of households with five or more people was among the 30 to 44 age group. These householders were likely to be living with children under age 18.

Other highlights:

Of the nation’s 73.8 million children, approximately 7.1 million (9.7%) now live with a grandparent.

Click here to view the survey tables.