The (Poor) State of Black Families

Despite the progress African Americans have made on income and education, when it comes to marriage and families, the numbers are bleak.



Nearly half of black Americans have never married—the highest percentage for all racial groups. Only 30 percent of blacks are now married.

Married couples make up nearly three-quarters of all U.S. families. Among black families that number falls to 44 percent.

The Children

Black kids in the United States are in deep trouble.

Nearly 10 million black families lived in the United States in 2007. Twenty-one percent of these families were married couples with children. This is the lowest for all racial groups. The U.S. average is 32.4 percent.

But nearly one-third of these families were single mothers with children under 18. The U.S. average is 12.1 percent.

Slightly less than 20 percent of black families were grandparents raising their grandchildren. The U.S. average is 10 percent.

No surprise then that slightly more than half of black kids live with only one parent and that’s overwhelmingly with their mother. A home headed by a single mom often equals an economically poor home.

Historical Look

In 1960, the proportion of black children living with a single parent was 20 percent. By 1970, that number had grown to 30 percent. The numbers for intact families slid throughout the 1970s. Black families started crumbling in the 1980s.

In 1980, more black children were living with a single parent than with two parents (43.9 percent versus 42.2 percent, respectively). Black single-mom families continued to mushroom, making them a stark contrast with most U.S. families where children lived with both mom and dad.