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Nontraditional homes in Utah keep up on kids

Everybody knows Utah households tend to have more children than those in other states, but a new census report shows it's not just traditional, married-couple families who beat out the national statistics in terms of having children.

Utah is ranked in the top 10 in the nation for the percentage of couples living together but not married who have children in their home under the age of 18.

Unmarried, opposite-sex partner households and same-sex partner households in Utah are each more likely to have children living in their home than the national average, according to a U.S. Census report on married-couple and unmarried-partner households.

"It just shows that no matter what type of household you live in, whether it's a married household or an unmarried household, we still tend to have a lot of children," said Neil Ashdown, deputy director for the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.

Because Utah has the highest percentage of children of any state in the nation, it makes sense every category of household would contribute to that statistic, he said.

According to the report, which is the first of its kind and which is based on numbers from the 2000 Census, 47.2 percent of unmarried, opposite-sex partner households contain a related or unrelated child, compared to 43.1 percent nationally.

For same-sex partner households, the gap is even wider, with 30.2 percent of unmarried-partner households containing male partners including children, compared to a national average of 22.3 percent. For female partners, 42.3 percent contain either a related or unrelated child, compared to 34.3 percent nationally.

The census did not ask any questions about sexual orientation. However, the long-form questionnaire asked respondents to identify their relationship with the other people or person living in the house as well as their gender, and distinguished between roommates and unmarried partners.

The report shows Utah had the highest proportion of coupled households in the nation, with 67 percent, and the lowest percentage of unmarried-partner households in the nation, with 4.4 percent.

Census 2000 shows that out of 701,281 households in the state, 24,104 contained unmarried partners. Of those, 3,370 were same-sex partners, about equally divided among males and females. The remaining 20,734 were households with unmarried male and female partners.

Opposite-sex partners make up the substantial majority of unmarried-partner households both nationally and in Utah. Nationally, 1 percent of all coupled households contained same-sex partners, and in Utah, just 0.7 percent of coupled households and 0.5 percent of all households.

The report also showed households with non-married partners in Utah were more likely to be mixed-race households. In married-couple households, 7.3 percent of couples are of different races or ethnic origins, compared to 18.8 percent of households with unmarried, opposite-sex couples.


E-mail: ehayes@desnews.com