Demography of American Indian families

Gary D. Sandefur, Carolyn A. Liebler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper uses data from the decennial censuses to examine family structure and changes in family structure over time among American Indians. The information about the national Indian population indicates that the trends in family structure among American Indians are parallel in many respects to those in the general US population. That is, the percentage of young American Indian women who have never married has increased over time, the percentage of American Indian women who are divorced has increased over time, and the percentage of American Indian children who reside with a single parent has increased as well. The percentage of American Indian women who have never married and who are divorced and the percentage of American Indian children who live with a single parent are higher than those among the general population. The incidence of children living with single parents is especially high on some reservations which also have high levels of poverty and unemployment. Family patterns, however, vary considerably across reservations in ways that are not easily explained by differences in other demographic characteristics. These variations may be due to cultural and historical differences that are not captured in data collected in the censuses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


  • American Indians
  • Divorce
  • Family
  • Marriage
  • Single-parent families


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