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Thoughts on the 2015 Pew Research on the Living Arrangements of Children

The newest Pew research on the living arrangements of children in the US is an eye-opener. For example, 26% of kids are living in a single parent home and a full 54% of children are living in a non-traditional home. Like I've said before, "Non-traditional is the new traditional."

As it relates to stepfamilies, however, the December 2015 Pew report should not change our understanding that 40% of families with children are blended families. 

I confirmed with colleague friend Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder from Auburn University (personal communication, Jan 28, 2016) and here are our collective thoughts about the Pew Report: 
  • It's often hard to compare stats since the "population" or pool can vary in important ways. The Pew stat is the percent of all children (i.e., children under 18) and they are only looking at resident households. This does NOT capture nonresident children (living in the other home) or those over 18 years of age.
  • Plus, some of the 46% in "first marriage" homes are actually in stepfamily homes (with over 40% of kids being born out of wedlock, many first marriages are forming stepfamilies); of course, no one knows how many.
  • Plus, some of the cohabiting homes are stepfamilies (7%)
  • Plus, some (perhaps many) of those in single parents homes have a stepparent in their other home. 
So, if we could add the percent from the other categories that actually live in blended families, the percent of children in remarriages/stepfamilies would go up from 15%.

In sum, adding in the other home and children over 18 makes a big difference. Therefore, we stand by the data from Karney, et al (2003) who had a more complete data set. Francesca's calculations of his data are that 40% responded "yes" to the question, "Does one or both of you have a child from a previous relationship?" This remains the best national estimate that we have. 

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