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The UK’s “nuclear family” now is a little smaller.
The number of divorced and unmarried parents in the UK has risen markedly in the last two decades, new research has found, highlighting the challenges that are faced by many parents in Britain today.
The proportion of children from parentless homes rose from 2.3 per cent of all children in the 1990s to 4.4 per cent today, according to the report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
“While older forms of nuclear family are still common, there has been a decrease in childlessness,” said Dr Chris Hammerschlag, lead author of the NICE report, which was published on Wednesday.
Research has revealed that more than 40 per cent of Britons are out of contact with their biological parents.
The increase in childlessness has been driven by the rise in the number of children being born to lone parents over recent decades, according to the report.
At the same time, many marriages and cohabitations are breaking up for one reason or another.
Despite official figures suggesting that the proportion of children being raised by a nuclear father has fallen to 5.4 per cent from 6.6 per cent in the 1980s, official census data show that the proportion of children living with an unmarried mother remains high.
A fifth of all children were either born to single mothers, separated mothers or mothers who have never been married, the report said.
Dr Hammeschlag said the findings were most likely to be linked to the rise in childless marriage or cohabitation. “The divorce rate is now much higher. The divorce rate for couples who had cohabitated until the marriage was broken is 12 per cent, much higher than for single partners. And childlessness is almost twice as high as it was 40 years ago,” he said.
The overall decline in the fertility of married women is also likely to play a role in the increasing number of childless people, even though men have still been increasingly out of the marriage market. “It is likely that people who have no children at all, especially
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