Table of Contents

State of the Family Across the States

According to 2008-2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the United States Family Belonging Index is 46 percent with a corresponding Family Rejection Index of 54 percent.1) The action of parents determines the Family Belonging or Rejection Index within a nation, region, state, or racial or ethnic group—whether they marry and belong to each other, or whether they reject one another through divorce or other means. Rejection leaves children without married parents committed to one another and to their children.

The Index of Family Belonging is determined by the fraction of children aged 15 to 17 in a given area who live with both their biological parents, who have been married since before or around the time of their birth.

1. Regional Index

The Northeast has the highest Family Belonging Index (50 percent), followed by the Midwest (48 percent) and West (47 percent). The Family Belonging Index for the South is the lowest of the four Census regions at 42 percent.

2. Regional Index by Race

In the Midwest, Asians have a Family Belonging Index of 63 percent. Fifty-five percent of White teenagers, 43 percent of Hispanic teenagers, 28 percent of Multiracial (non-Hispanic) teenagers, 17 percent of American Indian teenagers, and 13 percent of Black teenagers in the Midwest grow up in intact married families.

In the Northeast, Asians have a Family Belonging Index of 69 percent. In the Northeast, the Family Belonging Index among White teenagers is 61 percent; among Hispanic teenagers, 29 percent; among Multiracial (non-Hispanic) teenagers, 39 percent; among American Indian teenagers, 27 percent; and among Black teenagers, 18 percent. In the West, the Family Belonging Index among Asian teenagers is 62 percent.

In the West, 52 percent of White teenagers, 42 percent of Hispanic teenagers, 43 percent of Multiracial (non-Hispanic) teenagers, 24 percent of American Indian teenagers, and 18 percent of Black teenagers grow up in intact married families.

In the South, the Family Belonging Index among Asian teenagers is 69 percent. Fifty percent of White teenagers, 43 percent of Hispanic teenagers, 35 percent of Multiracial (non-Hispanic) teenagers, 34 percent of American Indian teenagers, and 19 percent of Black teenagers in the South grow up in intact married families.

3. State Ranking

Utah, Minnesota, Nebraska rank highest in family belonging: In most states, less than half of 15- to 17-year-olds have grown up in intact married families. But in 10 states, a majority of teenagers have been raised by both parents. Utah leads the nation with a Family Belonging Index of 57 percent. Minnesota is second in the nation, with an Index of 56 percent, and Nebraska ranks third nationally, with an Index of 55 percent.

Other states with more than half of teenagers raised with both biological parents married are New Jersey (54 percent), North Dakota (53 percent), New Hampshire (53 percent), Massachusetts (52 percent), Iowa (51 percent), Connecticut (51 percent), and Idaho (51 percent).

No state in the South has a majority of teenagers living with both married parents. Virginia leads the South in family intactness, but even its Family Belonging Index (48 percent) is below half.

Washington, D.C., Mississippi, Louisiana rank lowest in family be-longing: Washington, D.C., has the lowest Family Belonging Index in the nation, 17 percent. Mississippi ranks next-lowest, with an Index value of 32 percent. Only slightly higher are the Indices of the states of Louisiana (36 percent), Arkansas (37 percent), Alabama (38 percent), New Mexico (39 percent), South Carolina (39 percent), Nevada (39 percent), Georgia (39 percent), and Oklahoma (39 percent).

State Family Belonging Index
AL 38
AK 45
AZ 41
AR 37
CA 47
CO 48
CT 51
DE 42
DC 17
FL 41
GA 39
HI 50
ID 51
IL 49
IN 44
IA 51
KS 49
KY 42
LA 36
ME 45
MD 46
MA 52
MI 46
MN 56
MS 32
MO 43
MT 48
NE 55
NV 39
NH 53
NJ 54
NM 39
NY 48
NC 42
ND 53
OH 45
OK 39
OR 46
PA 49
RI 44
SC 39
SD 49
TN 40
TX 45
UT 57
VT 49
VA 48
WA 48
WV 41
WI 50
WY 46
1) Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database], (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010).


This entry draws heavily from Fourth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection.