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Census figures reveal changing face of marriage, family in Minnesota and nation

The decade ending in 2010 has seen a jump in mixed-race couples, couples living together outside marriage and people living alone.

One-person households, 2010

The age-old institution of marriage changed significantly during the decade ending in 2010, scoring a big jump in mixed-race couples, according to new analysis from the U. S. Census Bureau.

The proportions of people living alone and couples living together without tying the knot also rose dramatically during the decade.

Even traditional husband-wife households were more diverse than ever before. The 2010 Census revealed that the ranks of interracial or interethnic couples swelled by 28 percent over the decade to the point where one in 10 married couples was racially mixed.   

Minnesota did not keep pace with that trend; just 5.5 percent of the state’s married couples were racially mixed. The national trend was driven by marriages between Americans of Hispanic origins and non-Hispanics. While Hispanics are a fast-growing group in Minnesota, their concentrations are far lower than in the southwestern parts of the country where the mixed marriages were more prevalent.

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For unmarried couples around the country, the mixed relationships were even more common: 18 percent of opposite-sex unmarried couples and 21 percent of same-sex couples had chosen partners of a different race or ethnic origin.

Nationally, there also was a 41 percent increase in unmarried partner households between 2000 and 2010. Households with unmarried couples of the opposite-sex grew from 4.9 million in 2000 to 6.8 million in 2010. The numbers of same-sex unmarried partner households remained relatively small, but they also grew during the decade to from 358,000 to 646,000.

The upshot was that in 2010 just 48 percent of all American households were occupied by a husband-wife team, down from 52 percent in 2000 and 55 percent in 1990. This marked the first time that husband-wife families fell below 50 percent of all households in the United States since data on families were first tabulated in 1940.

Whatever the marital relationship, more multigenerational households emerged during the decade. These families — containing three or more parent-child generations — increased from 3.9 million in 2000 to 5.1 million in 2010. In Minnesota, 2.2 percent of all households were counted as multigenerational.

Still, more Americans than ever before – especially the elderly – lived alone at the decade’s end. The percentage of households containing just one person increased from 25.8 percent in 2000 to 26.7 percent in 2010. The trend was more pronounced in Minnesota where people living alone accounted for 28 percent of the households.