A few weeks ago I was fascinated by an article in the LA Times by Linthicum, Bloomenkatz and Gold (sounds like law offices but they are the reporters) about how the most recent Census figures show how the traditional family structure is changing in California. It is not a surprise to anybody the high number of divorces or how much more common it is to see same-sex households, but more than just looking at the general data, the ups and downs in the numbers, what I liked about this article is the closer look at some of this specific changes on the family picture in the second decade of the 21st century.
The traditional household, opposite-sex, married with kids family, is 23.4% of all households in California, representing a 10% decline since the last Census. An interesting reference made in the article is how families portrayed in the media went from “Ozzie and Harriet” to “The Brady Bunch” to “Modern Family.” The article points out how the preservation of the traditional family is also as a “hot political issue.” As the Director of the non-partisan and non-profit Council on Contemporary Families, Stephanie Coontz mentions that it is vital to create a modern and accurate portrait of the American family,
“As a society, we’re not going to know how to invest in the next generation if we don’t know where the next generation lives and how it lives,” and the she added ”the question right now is not what kind of families do we wish people were living in but what kind of families do exist, and what are the variations within those families.”
Among the other significant data the article mentions are:
- Opposite-sex unmarried partners rose by 20%, making it 6.2 of all California homes
- The single-parent household rose by 20% and now makes 11.8% of the total households
- Married couples with no kids rose by 4%, now represent 26% of California’s households
- Same-sex households also show a 25% increase
These changes reflect the changing face of the traditional demographics of the United States, and in my perspective these changes will be accentuated even more in the coming years. There is no going back and governments and organizations need to understand the implications of this new face, to adapt and educate these new and different modern American families.