Household composition in Metro-Detroit: Female family based households makeup majority of Detroit

This post examines demographics of households in Detroit and the tri-county area, using information available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey one-year estimates. According to the American Community Survey, female-run family households are the majority of households in Detroit. While the City of Detroit and Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties all have more family than non-family households, only Detroit has such a high percentage of female-run family households. Detroit also had the largest average household size and family size.

It should be noted that in this post Wayne County estimates include estimates from the City of Detroit as well.



According to the 2011 American Community Survey data, Oakland County had a higher percent of males-52.3 percent-while Macomb and Wayne counties and the city of Detroit had a higher percentage of women.


In 2011, Detroit had the largest average number of residents in a household (2.74) while Oakland County had the smallest (2.49). The difference between the two was 0.25 persons per household. Wayne County was 0.06 below Detroit, and Macomb County was 0.2 below Detroit.

According the U.S. Census Bureau, the average number of persons per household for each geographic location was obtained by dividing the number of persons in a household by the number of households in that geographic location. A household included all persons who occupy all types of housing units, except housing units classified as group quarters.


Like with the average household size, in 2011, Detroit had the largest average family size (3.76) of the geographical areas examined while Oakland County had the smallest (3.12).  For all geographical areas examined, the average family size is larger than the average household size. Wayne County had an average family size of 3.47 and for Macomb County that number was 3.17.

A family is defined as a group of two or more people, one who is the householder, who are related by birth, marriage or adoption and reside together.


The percent of family households in Macomb and Oakland counties is above 65 percent, while that number is below 60 percent in Detroit.  In Detroit, the percent of family households in 2011 was 57.3 and the percent of non-family households was 42.7. For Macomb County in 2011, the percent of family households in the county was 66.9; the percent of non-family households was 33.1. Oakland County’s distribution was similar to that of Macomb County, with 65.4 percent of the county consisting of families. In Wayne County, the percent of family households was 62.9.

A non-family household is defined as a person living in a household with non-relatives or alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A family household includes any unrelated sub-family members and/or secondary individuals; the householder is part of a family that consists of two or more people related by birth, marriage or adoption.


The above chart demonstrates the composition of family households in Detroit as well as Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties.

Considering only family households in the Metro-Detroit area, the data show that Detroit had the highest percent of female householders with no husband. For Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, married couple families made up majority of the family households. Macomb County had the highest percent of married couple families with 49.8 percent of all family households; Oakland County had 49.7 percent.

For all four geographic locations examined, a family based around a male householder with no wife made up the smallest percentage of the family-type households.


According to age distribution data by the American Community Survey the largest segment of Detroit’s population are those between the ages of 5 and 14; this group makes up 14.1 percent of Detroit’s population. The 45-54 age group accounts for about 14 percent of the population; this age group accounts for the second highest percent of Detroit’s population. Those 75 and over comprise the smallest portion of Detroit’s population at 5.6 percent.




Unlike Detroit, the 45-54 age group is the largest segment of the Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties population. For Wayne County, this age group makes up 14.6 percent of the population, for Macomb County it makes up 15.6 percent of the population and for Oakland County it makes up 16.2 percent. Like Detroit though, the oldest population makes up the smallest percent in Wayne County. For Macomb County though, those between the ages of under the age of 5 make up the smallest percent of the population, at 6.5 percent. For Oakland County it is those between the ages of 20 and 24 that make up the smallest percent of the population at 5.4 percent.