Now that America is once again singing “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” it’s appropriate to think about how we think. Typically, we think about people as people, which is all well and good. Sometimes we should think about people as they live in households.
Often, households are a better unit of analysis. They are the social and buying units for appliances, newspapers, magazines, and turkeys.
Yes, the number and characteristics of persons in a household, and their wealth, make a difference. But just increasing a household’s size doesn’t automatically increase the number of bathtubs, avocados or chess sets bought and used.
Periodically, the U.S. Census Bureau issues an American Housing Survey (AHS). It’s smaller than other surveys done by the Bureau. Indiana has too few people to have a report of its own. Our data are combined with those from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. Census calls that five-state area the East North Central Division. Others know it as the Great Lakes Region.
The 2019 report shows a nation with 124.1 million households of which 15% (18.6 million) are in the Great Lakes Region (GLR). In our Region, 30.3% of households are home to just one person. We may not think of it as we drive down a street, but we should be aware of the fact.
Who is living in these one-person GLR households? The largest group (26%) are women 65 and older. Men, by contrast, at 12% are scarce in that age range (45 men per 100 women). Next are men 45 to 64 (18%) and women of the same age (17%). The genders in this age group are more equal at 104 men per 100 women. Men under 45 outnumber women 144 to 100.
In the GLR, 35.3% of housing units contain but two persons. Combined with the one-person households, this adds up to 65.6%. Thus, nearly two out of three dwellings, are occupied by fewer than three persons. Nationwide, the figure is 62.4% and rising most every year.
One-quarter of the households in our Region have either three or four persons. Just a mere 8.7% have more than four residents. If you are a data denier, check out the ads on TV. They are pitched to people as they actually live, not to our fantasies about the people we don’t know.
Cut another way, nearly 70% in our Region are two-or-more-person households and two-thirds of those are married couples. If you’re still with me, in our Great Lakes Region, there are 8.8 million married couples with spouses present. Of these, 98,000 (1.1%) are same-sex marriages.
In addition, there are 1.4 million unmarried couples of whom 51,000 (3.7%) are in same-sex relationships.
Having a virtual Thanksgiving dinner with data miners? Tell them about census.govand the AHS; they’ll never forget you.