Impacts of Demographic Events on US Household Change

Jiang, L. & O'Neill, B.C. (2006). Impacts of Demographic Events on US Household Change. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-06-030

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Understanding the determinants and consequences of changes in household size and structure is important to a wide range of social, economic, and environmental issues. In the U.S., living arrangements have undergone tremendous changes over the past 200+ years, but have been relatively stable since 1980. What drove these changes, and whether the recent stability can be expected to continue, are critical questions. While research has identified demographic events that drive particular types of changes in households, a systematic understanding of past and potential future changes is lacking. We use a household projection model to assess the sensitivity of household size and structure to various demographic events, and show that outcomes are most sensitive to changes in fertility rates and union formation and dissolution rates. They are less sensitive to the timing of marriage and childbearing and to changes in life expectancy. We then construct a set of future scenarios designed to reflect a wide but plausible range of outcomes, including a new set of scenarios for union formation and dissolution rates based on past trends, experience in other countries, and current theory. We find that the percentage of people living in households headed by the elderly may climb from 11% in 2000 to 20-31% in 2050 and 20-39% in 2100, while the average size of households could plausibly be as low as 2.0 or as high as 3.1 by the second half of the century.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Population and Climate Change (PCC)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:39
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:19

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