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Household Types

Variable Definitions:
Average Household Size: The average number of people living in a household

Children in Single-Parent Households: The percentage of children under the age of 18 who live with only one parent

Families with Children: The percentage of households with a child under the age of 18 who is related to the head of household (by marriage, adoption or birth) living in the home

Living Alone: The percentage of households with exactly one resident

Opposite-Sex Partnerships: The percentage of households with opposite-sex spouses or unmarried partners

Same-Sex Partnerships: The percentage of households with same-sex spouses or unmarried partners


American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, Tables S1101, B09005, B09019

Years Available*:

2019, 2020, 2021

*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).

Why are these variables important to measure?

Average Household Size

A household is defined in the American Community Survey as all the people who occupy a housing unit, which can be a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or any other space that is occupied as separate living quarters. Since households can be occupied by single or multiple families, groups of unrelated people, or single persons, it is important to specify the type of living arrangement that characterizes them. 

Household size is important to measure to aid in understanding the living conditions and quality of life of the inhabitants of a neighborhood. This, in turn, can help identify problems such as overcrowding, rent burden, and shortages in housing supply; informing the design of interventions to address them.

Children in Single-Parent Households / Families with Children

The Census Bureau defines a related child in a household as “any child under 18 years old who is related to the householder by
birth, marriage, or adoption. Related children of the householder include ever-married as well as never-married children. Children, by definition, exclude persons under 18 years who maintain households or are spouses or unmarried partners of

The defining factor of a single-parent household for a child is that only one of their parents are present, regardless of if there are other, unrelated inhabitants in the household. Understanding both the share of the neighborhood that is made up of families with children as well as  the percentage of children living in single parent households helps assess the living conditions of children in a neighborhood, as well as their residential arrangements. It further helps to understand the familial relationships common in a given area. Knowledge about residential arrangements and the living circumstances of children are essential for understanding the needs of a community and the provision of resources like daycare, education, and social services.

American Community Survey. 2017 Subject Definitions. Link

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