Changing Family Patterns - Parents & Children

Parents and children

Childbearing: Trends and reasons for the trends

  • Nearly half (47%) of all children are born outside of marriage- twice that of 1986. Most born into cohabiting couples.

  • Women are having children later, less children or no children at all- due to working. Average age of 1st child= 27.3 (1971), 29.7 (2005).

  •  2011 - 49% of live births were to mothers aged 30 and over.

  •  Predicted that a quarter of women born in 1973 will be childless at 45.


Lone-parent families (single-parent families): Trends and reasons for the trends

Lone parent families now make up 22% of all families with children.

  • Up until the 1990s divorced women were the biggest group of lone-parents, now it is women who have never been married.

  • Over 90% of lone-parent families are matrifocal (headed by women): Reasons- in divorce women are usually given custody of the children, men may not want to give up work, women seen as more ‘nurturing.’

  • Children in single-parent families are more likely to live in poverty: Many - struggle to work full-time- absent parent may not pay child support.

  • The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) - increasing by 20,000 a year- will reach more than two million by the next general election.

    AO3 New Right - Murray - growth is due to a welfare state with generous benefits.  Creates a ‘dependency culture’.

  • AO3 Single-parents live in poverty and the benefits aren’t generous, there is a lack affordable childcare so it is difficult to work full-time. So work part time and claim Family Credit.  Recent Government proposed and introduced changes, where benefits are cut- will result in many living in poverty.


Stepfamilies (reconstituted families): Trends and reasons for the trends

  • Stepfamilies now make up over 10% of families with dependent children (children who still rely on their parents)


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