Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2010 Oneida County Retrospective: Our Families and Family Structures

Families and Family Structures in Oneida County in 2010

  • More than three quarters of all families have two parents present in the home
  • Less than half of all families have children under the age of 18 in the home
  • More than 21,000 people have experienced either divorce or marital separation

Populations in Families: According to the 2012 ACS 5 Year Estimates, there are more than 179,000 people living in 57,897 family units in Oneida County. Some additional 40,328 people lived within 33,603 non-family units. Additionally, 14,290 people were in group quarters in 2010.

Family Structures: As a percentage of families, the two-parent family represents the vast majority of all family structures in Oneida County. About 73% of all families are comprised of this more traditional family structure. Female-headed families (with no male present) are the next most common in Oneida County. One in five families (20%) are female-headed. Male-headed families (with no female present) made up about 7% of all familial units.

Children in Families: As a general rule in Oneida County, families with children are less common than those without. Less than half of all families (43%) have children under the age of 18 residing in the family household. This is especially true among more traditional, couple-based families. Less than two out of every five two-parent families (38%) have children living at home with them. Single-parent families (male- or female-headed, with no spouse) are far more likely to have children at home. Three out of every five (60%) female headed families have children 18 or younger living in the home, while 52% of all single dad headed families have young children at home.

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Parent Age and Family Structure: This relates closely to the general age of family heads in Oneida County. Heads of single-parent families tend to be younger compared to parents in two-parent families. Only about 12% of parents in all two-parent families are under the age of 35. In comparison, single-parent householders are two and a half times as likely (31%) to be younger than 35 years old.

Marriage and Divorce: In terms of the institution of marriage, about 90,000 people in the county are married with a spouse present in the home. Nearly 20,000 people had experienced a divorce in their lifetime as of the 2010 data, and another 4,500 were separated from their spouse. Of the 63,591 people who have never been married (age 15 and older), about half  (31,427) are under the age of 25.

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Historical Trends in Oneida County Families: 1960-2010

  • Two-parent families are becoming less common; about 1 in 4 families are headed by a single parent
  • Single parent families are 50% more likely to have children living at home
  • Single male-headed households appear to be the fastest growing segment of families

Numbers of Families: The number of families in Oneida County has declined over the last half of the 20th century, going from a high of 66,036 in 1970 to a low of 57,897 in 2010.

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Family Structure: Interestingly, there have been some changes in the dynamics of the County’s families over the last 50 years. To begin with, fewer families have traditional two-parent nuclear structures. While the majority of families do have two parents in the home (biological as well as step-parents), this is a declining occurrence. In its place is an increase in single parent families, usually headed by females.

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While families with a more traditional two-parent structure comprised 88% of all families in 1960, they have dropped to only 73% of families in 2010, or around three out of every four families. Female-headed families with no male present, on the other hand, have increased as a percent of all families. While about one in ten families (11%) were female-headed in 1970, by Census 2010, one in five (20%) were headed by these “single moms”, basically doubling their number in forty years.

Single Dads: The “unspoken” family unit not typically included in the data, especially in the middle of the last century, is data on “single dad” families. While recognition of these familial units within the census is only a recent phenomenon, it is possible, or at least reasonable, to make some assumptions about how they have grown. Assuming that if we take the total number of families and subtract out “traditional” families and “single mom” families, the remainder is reasonably assumed to be comprised mainly of “single dad” families. Based on that assumption, if we add single dad headed families to the equation, we can see that while they comprise a relatively small proportion of familial units, they are also one of the fastest growing. Since 1960, the number of single dad families has more than doubled in Oneida County.

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Children in Families: The composition of families in Oneida County also changed in the latter part of the last century. Over the last 40 years, more than one out of every two families had children under the age of 18 present in the household. In 1970, for example, the rate was about 52% of all families; by 2010, only about two out of every five families (43%) had children under 18 present.  Looking at this more closely, it is apparent that these rates also vary greatly depending on the type of familial unit in place.

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To begin with, fewer and fewer traditional two-parent families have school aged children living in the home. Whereas two out of every three two-parent families (66%) had children under the age of 18 living at home in 1960, only 38% of such families had similarly aged children as part of their structure in 2010.

Single-parent families (females-headed with no male present, or male-headed with no female present) have seen the opposite trend. More and more single-parent families have children under the age of 18 present. Among female-headed families, the percent with children present has jumped from about 44% in 1960 to around 60% in 2010. Male-headed households (with no female present) appears to have climbed even faster if not higher, leaping from about 35% of all such families having children present in 1960, to more than 50% in 2010.