Family & Household Diversity timeline

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1950s – Traditional families

In the 1950s most people lived in traditional families.

Most children lived with both their biological parents.

Most parents remained married for life.

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1950s – Clear division of labour

Men and women had different roles.

The man was usually the breadwinner.

The wife stayed at home as the housewife and mother.

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1950s – Marriage

Most couples got married before they lived together.

Most people got married before they had children.

Divorce rates were low.

We do not know how many marriages were unhappy.

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1960s/70s – Changes in women’s roles

The Women’s Movement asked for:

equal pay

freedom from sexual discrimination

the right to control their fertility through free contraception.

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1980s/90s – New Right governments

New Right governments attack single parents.

The Child Support Agency chases ‘absent fathers’ for financial support for their biological children.

The New Right strongly support traditional families.

Divorce continues to rise.

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1980s/90s – New Labour governments

New Labour is more sympathetic to family diversity than the New Right.

New Labour focuses on people in need, particularly children in poverty.

The attack on single parents stops.

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Twenty-first century – New Labour policies

Tax credits for children are introduced to reduce child poverty.

Maternity leave is improved and paternity leave introduced, although few fathers take advantage of paternity leave.

The Conservative Party attacks the Labour government for not supporting marriage. All parties become concerned about the cost of supporting the elderly.

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Twenty-first century – Divorce and cohabitation

Marriage rates fall.

Many marriages are remarriages.

Large numbers of young people cohabit before marrying.

Large numbers of children live with a single parent or a step-parent.

Divorce rates stabilise.

People marry later.

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Twenty-first century – New technology

New technology makes it possible to extend child-bearing.

‘Test-tube’ babies and babies with surrogate mothers are born.

Some of these changes can arouse considerable controversy.

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Twenty-first century – Civil partnerships

Same-sex couples gain the right to civil partnerships in 2005.

Same-sex couples also gain similar legal rights to married couples.

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