Is Your Family the New "Normal"? This Chart Can Tell

Jake Bronstein

The size and shape of the family household is changing. Where do you stand?

The traditional nuclear household (mom, dad, and two children) like your parents and their parents likely grew up in, is still what many people have in mind when they talk about family. But these days, family structure and the households we set-up to support them, come in many shapes and sizes.

Nathan Yu, of the website Flowing Data, organized the results of the 5-year American Community Survey from 2010-2014 to help visualize the current state of affairs.

In total, he counted 10,276 different types of households.

These are the 50 most common family types in America. Where does yours fit on the chart?

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The graphic above shows the top 50, ordered by most common from top to bottom and left to right.

  • Relationships are relative to the surveyed head of household.

  • Larger circles are (mostly) adults, smaller circles are children or grandchildren.

  • Circles are colored dark green to show the householder’s family nucleus, light green for family members outside the nucleus, and gray for non-relatives, which includes friends and partners.

  • Connecting lines represent marriage and children, or the householder’s family nucleus. From there, household types — one-person, nuclear, extended, or composite — are characterized using household definitions from the United Nations.

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Jake Bronstein

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