About one-third of U.S. children are living with an unmarried parent

Most children in unmarried parent households are living with a solo mother, but a growing share are living with cohabiting parents. Overall, about one-in-five children (21%) are living with a solo mother, up from 12% in 1968. Some 7% are living with cohabiting parents, about double the share that were doing so in 1997 (the first year for which census data on cohabitation are available). The share of children living with a solo father has ticked up, and stands at 4%, up from 1% in 1968. (In this analysis, children are classified based on the parent with whom they live most of the time. Children who split their time equally between households are classified based on which household they were in at the time of the data collection.)

All told, 24 million U.S. children younger than 18 are living with an unmarried parent. Most (15 million) are living with a solo mother. In comparison, 5 million live with cohabiting parents and 3 million live with a solo father. In 1968 – the first year for which these data are publicly available – 9 million children were living with an unmarried parent, 8 million of whom had a solo mom.