Did you know there are currently more households with pets than with children? According to the U.S. Census, the share of families with children living in their homes under the age of 18 has continued to decline. The share with children in 2022 stands at 40%, down from 48% in 2002. This is likely for two reasons: birthrates overall have been declining (outside of the increase in the last year), and there is a large share of Baby Boomer households whose children may have left the nest already.
While children in U.S. households have declined in the last 20 years, pet ownership has steadily risen. According to the American Pet Products Association, 70% of American households own a pet. This is up from 56% in 1988. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans adopted pets for companionship and entertainment. The American Pet Product Association reports that dogs and cats are the most common household pets.
Americans are investing a significant amount of time and financial resources towards their animals. According to the BLS American Time Use Survey the share of Americans who are spending time on their pets and the amount of time spent have both increased. In 2003, 13.2% of Americans spent time with their pets daily. In 2021, that share has grown to 19.7% and 22.8% of women. The amount of time spent on pets has increased from .62 hours in 2003 to .77 hours in 2021. Furthermore, not only is additional time being spent with pets, but financial resources as well. According to the American Pet Products Association, total U.S. pet industry expenditures has grown from $53.3 Billion in 2012 to $123.6 Billion in 2021.
Given the increased share of pets in households and the increased time and resources spent on pets, it is no surprise some home buyers consider their pets the most important factor when making home buying decisions. Factors such as proximity to the vet and outdoor space for pets is important for buyers with pets. Among all unmarried couples, nearly one-third of buyers considered their pet when deciding their neighborhood to purchase in compared to 14% of married couples. One-quarter of single women considered factored their pet into their neighborhood choice in comparison to 16% of single men. This trend is similar to the BLS Time Use Survey which found women are more likely to spend time with pets on a daily basis.
Among those who considered their pet to be very important to their neighborhood choice, they were also more likely to factor in a pet for other neighborhood features than those who did not. Pet lovers also purchased a home in an area with availability of larger lots or acreage and were more interested in convenience to parks and recreation areas and in walkability. This is not a surprise as it is likely not just the human who desires these neighborhood features but the pet themselves who need room to run and play.
For more trends on home buyers and recent activity of buyers, check out the full 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.