The Ever Changing Face & Role of Americans

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As demographic changes take place in the world, we wondered how this might affect people's Personal Safety Nets (PSNs). Two piece of recent research from our friends a Pew Research caught our eye. Both present new and interesting challenges to individuals and families or communities seeking to build or enhance their personal safety networks.

Dads At Home with the Kids:

The number of fathers who are at home with their children for any reason has nearly doubled since 1989. It reached its highest point: 2.2 million, in 2010, just after the official end of the 2007 recession. Since that time the number has fallen slightly, driven mainly by declines in unemployment.

Dads self-report feeling isolated, having difficulty connecting with a wider range of others who understand their questions, concerns and needs.

While most stay-at-home parents are still mothers, fathers represent a growing share of all at-home parents - And yet, at 16% of parents staying home with children, primary care dad is hardly alone. Interestingly, while roughly a quarter of these stay-at-home fathers (23%) report that they are home mainly because they cannot find a job. Nearly as many (21%) say the main reason they are home is that they want care for their home or family. This represents a fourfold increase from 1989, when only 5% of stay-at-home fathers said they were home primarily to care for family.

A rise in the number of stay-at-home fathers is occurring side by side with another important parenting trend of the past half century: a rising share of fathers who don't live with their children at all. About 16% of fathers with young children live apart from all of their children.

As is the case among mothers, stay-at-home fathers are less well-off financially and have lower educational attainment than their working counterparts. At-home fathers are twice as likely to lack a high school diploma as working fathers (22% vs. 10%). And almost half (47%) of stay-at-home fathers are living in poverty, compared with 8% of working fathers.

Finally, stay-at-home fathers also tend to be older than stay-at-home mothers. Just 24% of stay-at-home dads are less than 35 years of age, but 42% of stay-at-home mothers are. And stay-at-home fathers are twice as likely to be 45 years or older (43% are, compared with 21% of stay-at-home mothers).

Record Share of Americans Have Never Married:

After decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high. In 2012, one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married. Men are more likely than women to have never been married (23% vs. 17% in 2012). And this gender gap has widened since 1960.

The dramatic rise in the share of never-married adults and the emerging gender gap are related to a variety of factors. Adults are marrying later in life, and the shares of adults cohabiting and raising children outside of marriage have increased significantly. The median age at first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960. About a quarter (24%) of never-married young adults ages 25 to 34 are living with a partner.

This trend cuts across all major racial and ethnic groups but has been more pronounced among blacks. Fully 36% of blacks ages 25 and older had never been married in 2012, up from 9% in 1960. For whites and Hispanics, the share of never-married adults has roughly doubled over that same period. In 2012, 16% of whites and 26% of Hispanics had never been married.

Shifting public attitudes, hard economic times and changing demographic patterns all contribute to the rising share of never-married adults.

Today's young adults are slow to tie the knot, and a rising share may end up not getting married at all. When today's young adults reach their mid-40's to mid-50's, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married.

And what about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults? Survey findings showed 3.5% of adults self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and in households identified as LGBT, over 80% are cohabiting partners, while due to the fact that only 19 states recognize marriage between same-sex partners (as of this research), less than 16% are married partners.