Stepfamily Fact Sheet
The U.S. Census Bureau recently decided to discontinue providing estimates of marriage, divorce, and remarriage except for those that are available from our current census. Thus, many of our current estimates were derived from the 1990 census and earlier data sources.
Current estimates from 1988-1990 suggest:
- 92% of all men and women marry by age 50
- 43% of first marriages will end in divorce within 15 years
- 25% of all men and women report being marriage two or more times by age 50
- In 2004, 42% of all marriages were remarriages for at least one partner
- Of those who get divorced, 75% will remarry (65% bring children from a previous union)
- 60% of those who get remarried redivorce
- 15% of remarriages will end in divorce within 3 years, 25% within 5 years, 39% within 10 years
- The average length of first and re- marriages that end in divorce is about 8 years
- The average time between first divorce and remarriage is about 3.5 years
- 54% of women will remarry within 5 years of first divorce and 75% within 10 years
- 50% of men who remarry after first divorce do so within 3-4 years
- Having low income and living in poor neighborhoods are associated with a lower chance of remarriage
- Younger adults are more likely to remarry than older ones
- Whites and Latinos are more likely to remarry than African Americans
- After 5 years of divorce Whites are most likely to remarry (58%), followed by Latinos (44%) and African Americans (32%)
- These proportions show a marked downward trend when compared to national samples in 1976, which indicated the probability of remarriage within 5 years of divorce was 73% for Whites and nearly 50% for African Americans
- Estimates suggest that by the time they are 18, anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 will have been part of a stepfamily
Information from the 2009 Current Population Study (CPS) Report:
Of American children under 18 years of age:
- 69.8% live with two parents
- 62.5% live with their biological mother and father
- 59.7% of these couples are married, 2.8% cohabitate
- 4.5% live with their biological mother and stepfather
- 1.2% live with their biological father and stepmother
- 0.2% live with their biological mother and adoptive father
- 0.1% live with their biological father and adoptive mother
- 1.1% live with two adoptive parents
- 0.3% other (includes children living with one adoptive parent and one stepparent, or two stepparents)
- Of American children under 18 years of age and living in a two-parent household, 12.3% are part of a stepfamily
2010 Estimates from the Pew Research Center
- 42% of adults have at least one step relative, with 30% indicating they have a step- or half-sibling
- The likelihood of having a step relative and complex family and sibling relationships is increased for blacks, the younger cohort of adults, and adults without a college degree
- 52% of people under the age of 30 report having a step relative and 44% report having a step- or half-sibling compared with 45% and 35%, respectively, of those age 30 to 49
- 60% of African American’s report having a step relative and 45% report having a step- or half-sibling compared with 39% and 26%, respectively, of Caucasians
- 45% of those without college degrees have a step-relative and 34% have a step- or half-sibling compared to 33% and 21%, respectively, of those with a college degree
These statistics underestimate the number of U.S. stepfamilies, because…
- To date, government reporting of population figures indicate families in which the child resides. So if the child lives with a divorced, single parent and the other nonresident parent has remarried, the child is not included in the calculations as being a member of a stepfamily
- Children who are 18 and older or no longer living at home are not including in estimations
- Bumpass, L.L., Raley, R.K., & Sweet, J.A. (1995). The changing character of stepfamilies: Implications of cohabitation and nonmarital childbearing, Demography 32, 425-436.
- Bramlett, M.D., & Mosher, W.D. (2002). Cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the United States. In Vital and health statistics (Series 23, No.22). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
- Cherlin, A. J. (2010). Demographic trends in the United States: A review of the research in the 2000s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 403-419.
- Kreider, R.M. (2005). Number, timing, and duration of marriages and divorces: 2001. Current Population Reports, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
- Kreider, R.M. (2008). Improvements to demographic household data in the current population survey: 2007. Current Population Reports, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
- Kreider, R.M. & Ellis, R. (2011). Number, timing, and duration of marriages and divorces: 2009. Current Population Reports, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
- Pryor, J. (Ed.). (2008). The international handbook of stepfamilies: Policy and practice in legal, research, and clinical environments. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- U.S. Bureau of the Census (2008), Families and living arrangements, Current Population Reports, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
- U.S. Bureau of the Census (2009), America’s families and living arrangements, Current Population Reports (Table C9), Washington DC: Government Printing Office.
- Sweeney, M. M. (2010). Remarriage and stepfamilies: Strategic sites for family scholarship in the 21st century. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 667-684.
For more information, see the Bureau of the Census (www.census.gov) and the Center for Health Statistics.