(ABC4) – The face of the average American family has changed a lot over the last century. Looking into factors such as family size, multigenerational families and the rise of same-sex parents, here are some of the biggest changes.


Divorce rates have been on the decline each year. According to the CDC the divorce rate for 2021 was 2.9 per 1,000, the lowest it has been since 1968.

Family Living Arrangements

According to the Pew Research Center, In 1960 nearly 73% of children were living with two parents who were in their first marriage. That number dropped to 46% in 2014 with single parent living and two parents in remarriage on the rise.

Another recent rise has been cohabiting parents who are not married but are raising a family. In 2018, 35% of unmarried parents were cohabiting.

The number of people living in multigenerational households reached a record high of 20% in 2016.

Family Size

Household and population growth have both been declining over the past decades. In 1960, the most common number of children was four but today that number has been cut in half to an average of 2 children.

Parents today are also more likely to be more educated and older. The average age for first time mothers in 1970 was 21, today that age is up to 26.

Women in the workforce

The US Department of Labor reported in 2021 that 71.2 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the workforce, a near 24% increase from 1975.

There has also been a rising trend where mothers are the sole provider for their families. The amount of breadwinning or co-breadwinning mothers has more than doubled since 1967.

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states in 2015. According to the Pew Research Center in 2007, 54% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage. Ten years later in 2017, 62% of Americans said they support it.

Since 2014, the number of same-sex marriages has risen by almost 70%.

Birth rates

While birth rates have been on the decline, the number of births happening outside of marriage is on the rise. Only 10% of births in 1969 were outside of a marriage, today that number is up to 40%.

Household numbers

The number of households has increased dramatically, with the size of the average house being much larger than it was 40 years ago.

In 1970 there were an estimated 63.4 million households, today that number is up to 127.5 million.

The average size of a house in 1980 was 1,595 square feet, today the average house is around 2,386 square feet.

Overall, the U.S. is seeing declining birth rates and divorce but increasing trends in blended families, working moms and rising costs for just about anything.