What is the Typical American Family?

by Leah Williams ; Updated September 28, 2017

The typical American family is not the same structure it was a generation ago. Social and economic dynamics have changed what is considered normal in society. A two-parent household with children is no longer the median version of today’s family.

Family Size and Income

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average number of people per household was calculated at 2.59 during the 2000 census. More people own homes, as the census reported that more than 66 percent of Americans were homeowners. In 2008, the median income for American families was approximately $52,000 yearly, the census bureau reported.

Single Parent Households

More families are being run by single parents, and the number is set to increase. According to Americans for Divorce Reform, approximately 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue on the course they are headed. Most divorces occur with young people, as more than 80 percent of divorces are with couples under 30 years old.


American families used to have a large number of children to compensate for high mortality rates. Since the 1970s, the number of children has been under two per household for most American households, according to Stanford University.

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About the Author

Leah Williams has written for many newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, including the "Mt. Vernon Register-News" and "Nightlife." She has her bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University and is now working on her graduate degree. Williams likes to write about parenting, arts and entertainment, education and features.