Family Structure and Children’s Health in the United States

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National Center for Health Statistics


The fact that children today are more likely to grow up in a non-traditional family in the form of a single-parent, unmarried, cohabiting or extended family household, is, for the most part, negatively affecting a child’s likelihood to have full health coverage, according to this new report.

The proportion of U.S. children likely to live part of their childhood in a married stepfamily increased from one seventh in the early 1970s to one quarter in the early 1980s.

According to the survey, children living in nuclear families were more likely than children in single-parent, unmarried, blended, cohabiting, extended family or any other type of household to have health insurance.

Among children under the age of 5, only 6 percent living in nuclear families lacked health insurance, while in cohabiting families about 13 percent lacked insurance. About 12 percent of children under the age of 5 in  extended families lack health insurance.

Children not living in nuclear families were also less likely to have seen a dentist within a timely fashion or to receive needed eyeglasses.

Children in families with an income less than $20,000 a year or those whose parents had not graduated from high school also were unlikely to be insured, regardless of whether they lived in a nuclear family..

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