This brief is the first in a series examining timely topics that are relevant to Black families and children in the United States. It provides a brief summary of recent data and historical context on family structure, employment and income, and geography for Black people with young children in the United States. The second brief sheds light on the role of federal policies in creating, maintaining, and addressing these structural inequities, with a specific focus on access to early care and education for Black families. The third brief uses national, state, and local data to examine housing access and other available supports for Black families, especially during the COVID pandemic.
This inequality is built into the infrastructure of our country and has formed the foundation for structural racism—a system that privileges White people and in intentional disadvantage for Black Americans. These inequalities negatively impact the lives of Black people in a of ways, including where they live;  the education they receive ;  their employment and economic opportunitiesaccess to child caremental and physical health outcomesand political standing and power ; and the way they are treated in our systems of law and justice.
Black Americans currently about 42 million, making up about 13 percent of the total population in the United States.
As ofthere were 2. Due to the pervasive nature of structural racism in the United States, no Black person in America regardless of their country of origin or ancestry is immune from the effects of racism. When referencing Black people throughout this issue brief series, we are referring to individuals who may identify as African American—those who were primarily born in America and are descended from enslaved Africans who survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade—as well as the smaller populations of people living in America who may identify as Black African or Afro-Caribbean.
Black also includes individuals who reported being Black alone or in combination with one or more races or ethnicities in their responses to the U. Census—for instance, an individual who identifies as Black only, as well as someone who identifies as Black and White combined or Afro-Latino. Culturally, Black Americans have long highly valued romantic partnerships, marriage, and children. However, institutional and structural barriers often prevent them from being able to realize these values,  particularly for those who have low incomes.
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The percentage of Black women ever married, however, is lower than those who have cohabitated, at 37 percent. While there are many explanations for lower levels of marriage among Black women, an overwhelming of theories focus on economics—specifically, the earning potential and availability of Black men.
Importantly, each of these theories—implicitly, and sometimes explicitly—acknowledges the potential role of systemic racism and its impact on the marriage rate of Black Americans. Fertility rates for Black women have declined slightly over the past 10 years, from Thirty-seven percent of Black women have a first birth between age 20 and age 24and birth rates for Black women are highest from ages 25 to This indicates that Black women are having children at the same ages at which they may be enrolled in school or entering the workforce.
At the end of their childbearing years ages 15 to 50Black women have had an average of 2. Black children live in a variety of family structures, including married, cohabiting, coparenting, and single-parenting households. Sixty-four percent of Black children live in single-parent familieswhich may include single parents living with an unmarried partner or with another family. Among Black women ages 15 to 50approximately 60 percent were married or living with an unmarried partner at the time of their first birth, and roughly 40 percent were neither married nor living with an unmarried partner.
Extended family and kin networks, a source of social support and an enduring legacy of African cultures and heritage, have also played a key role in childrearing within Black communities.
There's a gender imbalance in many african-american neighborhoods. mass incarceration is largely to blame.
Black grandparents play instrumental roles in childrearing and child care even when children live with their parents. In addition, children from families of middle and lower socioeconomic status have shown reduced levels of language development from as early as 18 monthscompared with their more affluent peers. Black parents participate in the U. Half of Black female workers are mothers and more than two thirds of working Black mothers are single. These high rates of workforce participation, however, do not translate to higher earnings.
Among all full-time workforce participants inBlack men earned In addition, Black men and women are overrepresented in jobs that have nonstandard hours of employment. Thirty-four percent of young Black children living in a single-parent, low-income household—and 70 percent of young Black children living in a two-parent, low-income household— have parents who work a combination of standard and nonstandard hours. Nineteen percent of Black children living with two parents had one parent who worked overnight hours, and 6 percent had both parents working overnight hours.
Furthermore, 23 percent of those living in a single-parent household had a parent working weekend hours. In addition to working nonstandard hours, Black men and women have less secure employment. Due to difficulties entering and staying in the labor marketBlack men tend to work fewer hours than White and Hispanic men, while Black women work as many hours as White women but experience higher reductions in work hours when the economy slows.
In fact, despite high rates of workforce participation, Black workers had the highest unemployment rate nationally in the first quarter ofat 6. In turn, greater job insecurity may result in higher rates of poverty for Black Americans. Inthe poverty rate for Black Americans was Furthermore, 34 percent of Black children from birth to age 5 live in households with incomes below black women dating Atlantic IA men federal poverty line.
In sum, Black Americans have experienced employment-related challenges and structural barriers that make it difficult to maintain adequate income or accumulate wealth despite active participation in the workforce. Between the last recession which began in andthe wealth gap between Black families with children under age 18 and both White and Hispanic families with children under age 18 widened, despite the income gap remaining relatively constant. The enduring legacy of slavery, in addition to subsequent discriminatory and racist housing policies, is evident in the geography of where Black people live across the country.
During the Great Migration, from tomillions of Black Americans left the rural South for Northern and Western cities to get away from the oppression of racism and White hostility and to search for better employment opportunities. As a result, Black American families and children across all economic strata are currently highly concentrated in the Southern parts of the country and along the East Coast.
The relative size of the population of young Black children in the 50 states and the District of Columbia reflects this trend. Inthe District of Columbia had the highest percentage of children from birth to age 4 who were Blackfollowed by Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Maryland. The table below shows the 10 states with the highest percentage of Black children inalong with the total of Black children from birth to age 4 in that state.
Table 1: 10 states and DC with the highest percentage of young children who are Black, While the 10 states with the largest percentages of Black children from birth to age 4 were the same in as inthe size and share of the Black child population has shifted within states. For example, the District of Columbia had the highest share of Black children in both andeven though that share dropped from 54 percent to 44 percent.
This is part of a broader demographic shift in the Districtwhich is no longer majority Black. The of Black children, however, actually increased by 8 percent in the same time. The other nine states saw little change in their percentage of Black American children, but the of Black American children decreased in eight statesranging from 2 percent Delaware to 17 percent Mississippi. Changes in specific counties, metropolitan areas, and even neighborhoods may or may not be reflected in state-level changes.
Similarly, despite large concentrations of Black people living in the Southern and Eastern United States, several states in the Midwest and West experienced large increases in the and share of Black American children from toincluding Washington, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nevada.
The table below shows the 10 states with the largest growth in the of Black children from birth to age 4 from to While changes in smaller populations will be proportionally larger than similar changes in large populations, such changes still represent demographic shifts that—especially if concentrated in specific communities—may have implications for the infrastructure needed to support the provision of early care and education services for Black families. Table 2: 10 states with the highest percent change in the population of young children who are Black, In addition, the COVID pandemic is disproportionately affecting those who have historically experienced disadvantage in the country, including Black individuals and families.
This brief has provided a demographic overview of Black families with young children in the United States, highlighting three areas of consideration for policymakers focused on family support services: family structure, employment and income, and geography.
We understand that no single solution can undo the harm of hundreds of years of racist policies and practices, and that moving forward will require solutions from a wide range of places, organizations, and individuals across generations and with a variety of lived experiences. The remainder of this series will use family structure, employment and income, and geography to shed light on how policies specific to early care and education and housing can address some of the historical wrongs perpetuated against Black individuals and families.
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