The Changing American Family

The "traditional household" consists of a husband, wife, and children (and sometimes grandparents). Yet, the once American ideal of the two-child, two-car suburban family has lately been losing some of its luster.

In the United States today, married couples with children make up only 23 percent of the nation's 114 million households; married couples without children make up 29 percent; and single parents comprise another 16 percent. A full 32 percent are nonfamily households—single live-alones or adult live-togethers of one or both sexes.19

More people are divorcing or separating, choosing not to marry, marrying later, or marrying without intending to have children. Marketers must increasingly consider the special needs of nontraditional households, because they are now growing more rapidly than traditional households. Each group has distinctive needs and buying habits.

The number of working women has also increased greatly, growing from under 40 percent of the U.S. workforce in the late 1950s to 59 percent today. Both husband and wife work in 57 percent of all married-couple families. Meanwhile, more men are staying home with their children, managing the household while their wives go to work. According to the

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