April 22, 2019 | 59° F

Rutgers professor weighs in on how millennials are changing the "traditional family" in New Jersey

Photo by Rutgers.edu |

James Hughes, dean emeritus of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the shift away from a "traditional household", with a married couple and two children, has declined from the 20th century where nearly half of all households modeled the popular tv show "Leave it to Beaver."

Millennials are redefining the “traditional family” in New Jersey. The latest issue of the U.S. census snapshot suggests that married couples with children are not as prevalent as they once were. 

The number of households surveyed found that married couples with children under 18 are only 22 percent of the population, according to an article from NJ Advance Media

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 1970 this number was nearly double that at 40.3 percent, showing an incremental decrease in the subsequent years until 2012 when it stood at 19.6 percent, according to the Bureau's site

The number of single-parent homes and households with people who have no family relationship have increased — not to mention second marriages, unmarried partners and adult children living at home, according to NJ Advance Media. 

James Hughes, dean emeritus of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said this is all part of a trend that began in the mid-20th century, in an interview with NJ Advance Media. 

"In 1960, about half of all households were married families with children, the 'Leave it to Beaver' family," he said.

A trickle down from the previous generation moving out of its homestead means approximately 12 percent of New Jersey residents now live alone, according to the article. Hughes said that during that time unmarried couples were a new occurrence. 

Though they are not heavily observed by the census, unmarried couples do comprise the fifth percentile of opposite-sex partnerships in New Jersey households — an increase from the 4.3 percent that stood prior to the recession, according to the article.

Hughes said this prompted researchers to coin the term “persons of opposite sex sharing living quarters.”

"If you stuck somebody from the 60s in a time machine, who saw the world as married couples pushing strollers down the street, they would really be perplexed," he said.

Christian Zapata

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