American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
October 2015

Fewer Households with Children



2. Data you need: Spending and Attitudes:
BEST CUSTOMERS, 11th edition
WHO’S BUYING REPORTS, 14-volume series


To see Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog, click here.

1. Hot Trends

Fewer Households with Children
The consequences of the ongoing baby bust are readily apparent in the recently released figures from the Current Population Survey. The number of households with children under age 18 fell by 965,000 between 2014 and 2015–a substantial 2.4 percent decline.
Numerical (and % change), 2014 to 2015
Total households with children: -965,000 (-2.4%)
  Married couples: -291,000 (-1.1%)
  Female-headed families: -400,000 (-3.8%)
  Male-headed families: -274,000 (-8.3%)
Women Surpass Men in Education
The educational attainment of American women has surpassed that of American men, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. In 2015, the percentage of women aged 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or more education climbed to 32.7 percent. Among men, the figure was 32.3 percent. Although the difference is small, it will grow in the years ahead as well educated younger women replace much less educated older women in the population. Here is the percentage of men and women with a bachelor’s degree by age group (and the percentage point difference between women and men)…
Aged 25 to 34 (+6.2 percentage points)
Women: 39.2%
Men: 33.0%
Aged 35 to 44 (+5.6 percentage points)
Women: 39.0%
Men: 33.4%
Aged 45 to 54 (+1.8 percentage points)
Women: 34.0%
Men: 32.2%
Aged 55 to 64 (-0.4 percentage points)
Women: 30.7%
Men: 31.1%
Aged 65 or older (-9.3 percentage points)
Women: 22.5%
Men: 31.8%
Living Alone Is #1 Household Type
The number of people who live alone has surpassed the number of married couples without children at home, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. This makes single-person households the most common household type in the United States…
Percent distribution of households by type in 2015
28.0%: people who live alone
27.6%: married couples without children under 18 at home
20.5%: married couples with children under 18 at home
12.5%: female-headed families
  6.4%: unrelated people living together
  4.9%: male-headed families
Immigration What Ifs
Nearly 59 million immigrants moved to the United States between 1965 and 2015, according to a Pew Research Center report. If those immigrants had not come here, the nation would be far less diverse. Pew calculated the racial and ethnic mix of the nation if immigration had been zero during the past fifty years (compared to 2015)…

Non-Hispanic Whites: 75% (instead of 62%)

Hispanics: 8% (instead of 18%)
Asians: less than 1% (instead of 6%)

Ongoing immigration will reduce the non-Hispanic White share of the population to 46 percent by 2065, projects Pew. The Hispanic share will grow to 24 percent. The Asian share will rise to 14 percent. By 2065, Asians will be a larger share of the population than Blacks (13 percent).

39 Million Speak Spanish at Home
Sixty-three million people speak a language other than English at home–fully 21 percent of the population aged 5 or older, according to the 2014 American Community Survey. Of those who speak a language other than English at home, the 62 percent majority speaks Spanish. Here are the non-English languages with at least 1 million home speakers…
Language other than English spoken at home
(and % who speak English less than “very well”)
Spanish: 39.3 million (42%)
Chinese: 3.1 million (56%)
Tagalog: 1.7 million (31%)
Vietnamese: 1.5 million (59%)
French: 1.2 million (20%)
Korean: 1.1 million (55%)
Arabic: 1.1 million (38%)
White Population Is Growing in Big Cities
In a reversal of past trends, the white population is growing in the nation’s largest cities, according to an analysis of the American Community Survey by William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution. Between 2010 and 2014, reports Frey, the white population in the 50 largest cities grew by 491,494. This is in contrast to the loss of 592,228 whites in big cities between 2000 and 2010.
White gains were greatest in two age groups: 25-to-34-year-olds and 55-to-74-year-olds. “Some of these gains are certainly related to the recent uptick in the attractiveness of cities to young adults and retirees,” says Frey. But, he cautions, “city revival could be short-lived and related to the plight of struggling millennials.”
What Do Women Want?
Among women with children under age 18, according to Gallup, the majority would prefer to stay home and take care of house and family instead of having a job outside the home. Among women without children under age 18 at home, however, most would prefer to work…
Women with children under age 18
Prefer to work outside home: 39%
Prefer homemaker role: 56%
Women without children under age 18
Prefer to work outside home: 58%
Prefer homemaker role: 39%
Cable Still Rules, But Trouble Looms
The average household spent an astonishing $723 on cable and satellite television service in 2014, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. That’s 5 percent more than in 2013 ($691), 7 percent more than in 2010 ($675), 14 percent more than in 2006 ($633), and a whopping 64 percent more than in 2000 ($442), after adjusting for inflation. Cable ranks among the top 15 items on which the average household spends the most.
Although many have predicted the demise of cable as more Americans adopt video streaming, average household spending on cable and satellite service continues to grow. But another statistic reveals a troubling trend–a decline in the customer base. Only 70 percent of households purchased cable/satellite service during an average quarter of 2014, down from 74 percent in 2010. The decline is biggest among younger householders…
Percentage spending on cable/satellite service by age of householder, average quarter 2014
(and percentage point change since 2010)
Under age 25: 39% (-10.2)
Aged 25 to 34: 59%  (-9.1)
Aged 35 to 44: 70%  (-5.0)
Aged 45 to 54: 73% (-3.5)
Aged 55 to 64: 76% (-2.0)
Aged 65-plus: 78% (-0.1)
Average household spending on cable and satellite television service continues to rise, but only because a shrinking customer base is spending more.
Long-Term Care Policy Lapses and Cognitive Decline
Among men and women aged 65 who have purchased long-term care insurance, more than one in three will let their policy lapse before they die. Why do so many policies lapse? That’s what researchers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wanted to know. Their analysis shows that cognitive impairment is one important reason for lapsing. With age, some policy holders–the ones who will need long-term care the most–forget to pay the premium or no longer understand why they need a policy.
A higher cognitive score is associated with lower lapse rates, report the researchers. Interestingly, so is having a daughter–someone who can remind the policyholder of the importance of paying the premium. “Having a daughter is associated with a 14.3-percentage-point decrease in the probability of lapsing,” the researchers report.
Where Americans Grew Up
There’s a reason why Americans are nostalgic for small-town life. The largest share of Americans (one in three) say that’s where they grew up, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey
“Which comes the closest to the type of place you were living in when you were 16-years-old?”
16% in a city with a population of 250,000+
15% in suburb of a city with a population of 250,000+
17% in a city with a population of 50,000 to 250,000
33% in a town with a population of less than 50,000
10% in the country but not on a farm
8% on a farm
Most Smokers Are Trying to Quit
Most smokers have tried to quit smoking in the past year, according to the CDC. Among current and former smokers in 2013, fully 66 percent had attempted to quit, which is defined as going one or more days without smoking in the past 12 months because they were trying to quit. By age, younger adults are most likely to have attempted to quit…
Percent of current/former smokers who attempted to quit
Aged 18 to 24: 73.2%
Aged 24 to 44: 68.7%
Aged 45 to 64: 60.9%
Aged 65-plus: 56.4%
Fewer Are Reading Print Books
Book reading is down slightly from what it used to be, reports Pew Research Center, with print books accounting for all of the decline. Seventy-two percent of adults say they read at least one book in the past 12 months, according to Pew’s 2015 survey, down from 79 percent in 2011. The percentage who read a book in print fell from 71 to 63 percent during those years. The percentage who read an e-book climbed from 17 to 27 percent, and audio book reading was about the same in both years at 11 to 12 percent.
Young adults are most likely to have read any book in the past 12 months. In the 2015 survey, fully 80 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds say they read a book in the past year compared with 71 percent of 30-to-49-year-olds and 68 to 69 percent of people aged 50 or older. Young adults are ahead of the other age groups in reading both print and e-books…
Read a print book (or e-book) in the past 12 months
Total adults: 63% (27%)
Aged 18 to 29: 69% (34%)
Aged 30 to 49: 63% (33%)
Aged 50 to 64: 59% (23%)
Aged 65-plus: 61% (15%)
College Enrollment Declined in 2014
College enrollment fell for the third year in a row in 2014, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. Only 19.2 million students were enrolled in college in 2014, down from the 20.4 million peak of 2011. But there’s more to the story: most of the enrollment decline since 2012 has occurred at two-year schools. Behind the decline is the improving economy, allowing many who were cooling their heels at two-year schools to go back to work.
College enrollment in 2014 (and numerical change since 2012)
All colleges: 19.2 million (-755,000)
Two-year schools: 4.8 million (-988,000)
Four-year schools: 10.7 million (+316,000)
Graduate schools: 3.7 million (-83,000)
These are a sampling of posts published in the past few weeks in Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog. Please send questions or comments to


Which household type spends the most on women’s clothes? Women aged 25 to 34 who live alone spend the most, 88 percent more than the average household.

Which household type spends the most on alcoholic beverages? Men aged 25 to 34 who live alone spent the most, 61 percent more than the average household.


Who buys? What do they buy? How much do they spend? Get the dollar-for-dollar answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy from these one-stop resources. You can’t get these data online!


Looking for customers? Repositioning your products? Americans are still spending money, but only those who are on top of the trends will know who the spenders are. The 20th edition of Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What reveals who spent what in 2013 and the products and services they purchased. Also in this edition are comparisons of spending before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession and a look at the 2010-13 spending recovery.


You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages at, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables

Hardcover: $144.00 (978-1-9935114-80-2) 612 pages

Paper: $109.95 (978-1-933588-22-3)

PDF with Excel (single user): $109.95 (978-1-933588-24-7)


Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand, 11th edition

Find out how the American marketplace has been transformed by the Great Recession in this edition of Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand, with all-important 2013 spending data. In Best Customers you can see at a glance who spends the most and who controls the largest market share–often surprisingly different–on over 300 products and services. Each product table is accompanied by text that identifies the best customers, analyzes spending patterns, describes spending trends before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession, and predicts future trends based on changing demographics.


You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages at, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

Hardcover: $138.00 (978-1-933588-07-0) 808 pages

Paper: $103.95 (978-1-933588-17-9)
PDF with Excel (single user): $103.95 (978-1-933588-21-6)
Who’s Buying Series

Get the demographics you need to target your markets with the 14-volume Who’s Buying Series, which can be purchased individually or as a set. Each volume gives you the facts about consumer spending by age, income, household type, race and Hispanic origin, region of residence, and education. To round out the spending picture, you also get who-are-the-best-customer analyses of the data. These editions reveal product-by-product spending trends before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession. The Who’s Buying Series includes Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic Beverages; Apparel; Entertainment; Groceries; Health Care; Household Furnishings, Services, and Supplies; Information and Consumer Electronics; Pets; Restaurants; Transportation; Travel; and Who’s Buying: Executive Summary, Who’s Buying by Age, and Who’s Buying by Race and Hispanic Origin.


You can see the introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages of each volume in the Who’s Buying Series at, where you can also download these unique reference tools as PDFs linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables. Individual reports: $68.95; 14-volume series: $850.00.

The 8th edition of American Attitudes: Who Thinks What about the Issues That Shape Our Lives coaxes the results of the latest (2014) General Social Survey out of the shadows of academia and makes them readily available for researchers who want to explore Americans’ changing attitudes. In its hundreds of tables, American Attitudes taps into the General Social Survey gold mine, revealing what the public thinks about topics ranging from gay marriage to the American Dream, how Americans feel about their financial status, their hopes for their children, how often they socialize and with whom, their religious beliefs, patriotic feelings, political leanings, and standard of living. It shows those answers by sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, education, and region. American Attitudes reveals 2014 attitudes by demographic characteristic, and for every 2014 question for which historical data are available, it shows the history of response all the way back to the first appearance of the question on the General Social Survey.

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

Hardcover: $138.00 (978-1-933588-20-9) 604 pages

Paper: $103.95 (978-1-885070-47-0)
PDF with Excel (single-user): $103.95 (978-1-885070-66-1)

For your convenience, all of New Strategist’s titles are available as searchable single- and multiple-user PDFs linked to spreadsheets of each data table so you can do your own analyses and create PowerPoint presentations.


Among Americans aged 18 or older, 39 percent say they have been born again, but the figure varies greatly by region…

55% in the South
36% in the Midwest
31% in the West
22% in the Northeast