In S.C., traditional marriages decline

Traditional households with a husband and wife raising their children are no longer the majority in South Carolina.

Of the state’s 1.8 million households, 47.2 percent are made of a husband and wife living under the same roof, according to the 2010 Census statistics. Ten years ago, there were 1.5 million households in the state, and 51.1 percent of them were headed by a married man and woman.

South Carolina is following a trend that has spread across the nation. The traditional concept of a family is changing, whether it’s single parents raising children, gay couples sharing a home or men and women who move in together but are not married.

“It just doesn’t exist like it used to,” said Bobby Bowers, director of the S.C. Office of Research and Statistics. “You just can’t believe how much it has changed.”

In Richland County, traditional married couple households fell below the 50 percent mark years ago, while the majority of Lexington County’s households remain a traditional husband-wife set up.

The census statistics do not offer an explanation of why households are changing, and theories abound as to why it is happening. But the change is important to note because family structure affects important decisions such as health insurance coverage, end-of-life decisions, estate planning and child custody, according to the authors of a book about the definition of family, “Counted Out: Same Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family.”

Lala Carr Steelman, chairman of USC’s sociology department, is one of the book’s co-authors. There are many definitions of family whether they come from scholars, the judicial system or census questionnaires, Steelman said. She and her co-authors wanted to know how Americans defined family and set out to poll them about that question.

To read the complete article, visit