In 2003, 50.3 percent of adult women were married and living with a spouse. Over 10 percent of women were the head of a household, meaning that they had children or other relatives living in their household, but no spouse. Another 16.6 percent of adult women lived in the home of a parent or other relative. Almost 15 percent of adult women lived alone, and nearly 7 percent were living with non-relatives.

The households in which women live have a variety of structures. For instance, among women living with a spouse, just over 2 percent lived with their spouse in someone else’s home (such as with parents or roommates). In 2003, almost 5 million women lived in unmarried-partner households. Of these women, 93.5 percent lived with a male partner and the other 6.5 percent lived with a female partner.1 Many women also live with their adult children or their grandchildren. In 2000 there were 3.7 million women living with their grandchildren, compared to just over 2 million men.2

Women often function as caregivers for the people with whom they live, or for other relatives or friends. One out of every four people is a caregiver for a family member or friend, and, in the absence of an able spouse, a daughter or daughter-in-law is most likely to assume the role of caregiver.3 Approximately 75 percent of caregivers for older family members and friends are female.4 Of the 2.4 million grandparents who live with and are responsible for grandchildren, 63 percent are women.

Graph: Adult Women by Household Composition 2003[d]

Graph: Grandchildren Living with Their Grandparents 2002[d]

1 U.S. Census Bureau. 2003 American Community Survey Summary Tables. American FactFinder, Table PCT008.

2 U.S. Census Bureau. Grandparents living with grandchildren: 2000. Census 2000 Brief, October 2003.

3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging. Snapshot: National Family Caregiver Support Program. August 2003.

4 Family Caregiver Alliance. Selected caregiver statistics. http://www.caregiver.org