The percentage of high school seniors who were raised by both biological parents throughout childhood saw a major increase during the last decade, according to a new study that says the tide is turning on the supposed demise of the nuclear family.
The report by Nicholas Zill of the Institute for Family Studies found that 53.1 percent of high school seniors in 2019 were living with both biological parents, an increase from 51.3 percent in 2016 and 49.7 percent in 2012. That section of the report is based on data from the National Household Education Survey.
Just as significant, the report said, the uptick involved multiple racial groups, including whites, blacks and Hispanics.
The “tide is turning,” Zill said.
“It is too early to say for certain but growing numbers of actual and would-be parents seem to be heeding the conventional wisdom that a stable two-parent family helps children flourish educationally, socially, and economically,” Zill wrote. “They have come to accept that loving and being loved by one’s two parents, who are also committed to one another, has benefits for the children and adults involved and for the community in which they live.”
The percentage of black high school seniors living with both birth parents increased from 24.3 percent in 2012 to 29.6 percent in 2019. For Hispanics, it went from 49.7 percent to 49.8 percent, and for whites, from 55.8 percent to 59.1 percent.
“The fact that seniors were still living with both birth parents at the culmination of their schooling means that the vast majority grew up with them since birth,” Zill wrote. “Some may have been born to unmarried parents who subsequently got married during the student’s childhood. Some may have experienced parental conflicts or temporary separations, but not the kind of conflict that resulted in permanent splits. Their parents were able to work things out and the marriages endured.”
It wasn’t the only encouraging data in the report. The study also found that the proportion of children under 18 living with two parents increased to 70.4 percent in 2020 after falling to 67 percent in 2005. The figure included stepparent, adoptive and birth-parent families.
“Although certainly not out of intensive care, the supposed corpse of the two-parent family seems to be breathing new life,” Zill wrote. “... [T]he newest data point to a turning tide.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Thomas Barwick
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.