A new analysis from Pew Research Center reports a huge surge in the number of children living with single parents: it’s now 26%, compared to only 9% in 1960.
When the Baby Boomers were growing up, 50% of children lived in a traditional nuclear family head by a dad who went out to work and a mom who stayed at home. Today, that pattern applies to just 14% of children — and for African-American kids, just 4%.
In 1960, three out of four children under 18 were living with parents who were in a first marriage — and of these, two out of three had a stay-at-home mom. In 2014, less than half the children under 18 were living with parents who were in a first marriage — and of these, two out of three did not have a stay-at-home mom.
This is just one more example — and I’m going to keep pelting you with them — of how the classical “consumer lifestage” marketing model has become obsolete: people are not hitting the same benchmarks of family structure and behavior, and at the same ages, as in previous generations. We see it in the percentage of Millennial adults still living with their parents. We see it in the percentage of Millennials who are delaying marriage, first kids, purchase of first home (if ever). We see it in the increasingly fluid workplace, no longer relied on as a steady source of income or friendships. And now we see it, in this report, in the collapse of the “traditional” Don Draper-era nuclear family as the dominant demographic unit.
Yet audiences are still targeted, and media buys still structured, around age — women 25-49, adults 18-54, etc. — as if this was an accurate driver of…well, of anything. And the classical “consumer lifestage” model is still taught in marketing classes. Might as well teach alchemy in chemistry class.