In my previous post, the evolution of mean family size was presented. This size has been decreasing from 3.7 in 1965 to 3.13 in 2011 with the biggest families of 6 and more people splitting into smaller and smaller pieces. (All data were borrowed from the U.S. Census Bureau which is rich of data.). I also showed that the portion of two people families observed from 1950 has a sustainable linear trend which will bring this portion to 50% by 2025. It’s sad news and the driving force behind these processes deserves a special consideration.
So, who is the family killer? I have a bit paradoxical answer. The American families started to break into smaller pieces when more people started to enter labor force. Hence, a paid job is the reason for the families to split. Figure 1 depicts the portion of five, six, and seven and more people families since 1950. It also shows the evolution of the participation rate in labor force, LFPR, reduced by 0.5 for the sake of comparison. In 1965, the LFPR started to grow together with the fall in the bigger families’ portion. In 1990, both processes stopped and all curves reached some plateau.
The reason behind the current fall in the LFPR is of different nature and does not influence the family size much. There is no way back to bigger families.
Figure 1. The portion of five, six, and seven and more people families compared to the participation rate in labor force. The start and amplitude of all processes are in an agreement.