July 3, 2013 / 10:30 PM / 6 years ago

Households headed by single fathers at record level -US study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Single fathers are running households in record numbers, while religion is seeming to lose its importance in American lives, according to recent surveys and polls conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Other findings on topical issues included a nation divided over last week’s Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, Pew said on Wednesday.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of census and other U.S. community data through 2011, a record 8 percent of U.S. households with minor children are headed by a single father, up from just over 1 percent in 1960.

Households led by single mothers are also on the rise, increasing more than fourfold during that time period. But the data showed that single fathers were far more likely to live with a partner, with 41 percent doing so versus only 16 percent for women.

Single fathers also tended to be less educated, older and more likely to be white than single mothers. Compared with fathers heading two-parent households, single dads were younger, less educated, less financially well-off and less likely to be white.

In a report on increasing non-religious affiliation among Americans, Pew said its recent survey found respondents split as to whether or not more people being nonreligious mattered.

While 48 percent said the rise in nonreligious people was a “bad thing,” 11 percent said it was a “good thing,” and 39 percent told researchers it didn’t matter. The survey was conducted in late March and early April and included 4,006 adults.

Younger adults between 18 and 29 were less inclined than older ones to consider the increase in people who are not religious to be a bad thing for society, the survey found. Men and women surveyed had similar views on the subject.

Polls conducted by Pew in the wake of the Supreme Court rulings a week ago striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and effectively reinstating gay marriage in California found 45 percent approved of the court’s rulings and 40 percent disapproved.

Reactions were divided along age, gender and partisan lines. By a nearly 2-1 margin, those younger than 30 said they approved of the court’s decisions. Among respondents 65 and older, 49 percent disapproved of the rulings and 36 percent supported the decisions.

About 61 percent of Democrats approved of the rulings and 63 percent of Republicans disapproved. Women were more likely than men to support the decisions.

(The story was corrected to delete extra letters in headline)

Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Stacey Joyce

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