The Third Annual Index of Family Belonging & Rejection
Patrick Fagan, Nicholas Zill
The Index of Family Belonging for the United States is now just above 45 percent, which means that 45 percent of U.S. children on the cusp of adulthood have grown up in an intact married family. The mother and father of the remaining 55 percent of 17-year-olds have at some time rejected each other as husband and wife.
Even as our nation withdraws more and more from marriage, the case for intact marriage becomes ever more forceful, as our accompanying derivative report, U.S. Social Policy Dependence on the Family, makes plain, through an analysis of the well-being of our communities. In what follows, we examine family intactness across the states and in the largest American cities.
The Index of Family Belonging is a measure of the proportion of American adolescents who have enjoyed stable intact family lives-with both birth parents-throughout their childhoods. It is calculated from data provided by the American Community Survey of the U.S. Bureau of the Census and is strongly associated with measures of child well-being.
This 2013 Index uses the aggregated American Community Survey data for three years (2008 through 2010), and it thus gives us the most accurate measure to date of state levels of family intactness.