From 'Leave It to Beaver' to 'Modern Family'

Kaid Benfield takes a moment to reflect on the changing nature of the American household and how it will shape our cities in the coming years.

November 22, 2012, 7:00 AM PST

By Ryan Lue

1870 Ridley Thanksgiving NY

Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia

Ah, the holiday season – a time to gather around the table with loved ones, to keep old traditions alive, to make new ones as our families change and grow. Traditionally, the nuclear family has been painted as an anchor for these traditions, but Benfield poses some challenging questions for that particular, conventional view of American society.

"Does our storytale version of family life resemble real family life? Does it exclude people who are not part of or close to their families? Is the concept of 'family' changing, with implications for the planning profession? The answers are, of course, seldom; usually; and definitely."

According to recent reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, the American household is becoming an increasingly heterogeneous thing. Households composed of individuals, unmarried couples, and never-married single mothers are all on the rise, as two-parent families (especially those with working fathers and stay-at-home mothers) have followed a steady decline since the 1960s.

That's not to say, of course, that two-parent families have fallen into obscurity; they still represent a solid majority of all family households.

"Rather, we have a diverse and changing array of household types and circumstances that smart planners and businesses will seek to accommodate. The census data show that the growing parts of the housing market are nonfamily households, smaller households including people living alone, unmarried couples, single-parent households with kids, and older households."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 in Switchboard

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

May 20 - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

May 20 - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.