Report: Nearly Half of UK Children Growing Up Outside of Traditional Two-Parent Family

In England and Wales, the traditional family model is disintegrating, with research indicating that nearly half of children now grow up outside of traditional two-parent homes.

Dame Rachel de Souza, England’s Children’s Commissioner, has published preliminary findings from her Family Review, revealing that “44% of children born at the turn of the century were not raised in a nuclear family for their entire childhood, compared to 21% of children born in 1970.”

According to the review’s estimates, the nuclear family breakdown is more pronounced in some demographics than others, with Black Caribbean families being by far the most likely to be single-parent arrangements at 57%. 

Families classified as ‘Asian’ appear to have the lowest rate of single parenthood, with Bangladeshis at 10%, Indians at 11%, Chinese at 18%, Pakistanis at 19%, and ‘Other’ Asian families at 17%. Co-habiting, as opposed to marriage or civil partnership, is also very low among Asian groups, with rates of no more than 3%.

White families appear to be in the middle, with single parenthood highest in the White British category at 22%, slightly lower in the White Irish category at 20% and lowest among ‘Other’ whites at 17%.

Overall, England and Wales have one of Europe’s highest rates of single parenthood, trailing only Denmark and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Dame Rachel’s statement on the findings also mentions how families have shrunk dramatically in the modern era, with 42% having only one child, 42% having two children, and only 15% having three or more children.

However, as with single parenthood, the figures are inconsistent across demographics, with the “share of families with three or more children [varying] from 14% in White British families to 41% in Pakistani families and 38% in Bangladeshi families.”

It is estimated that 80,000 children are in state care, with “many more in less formal arrangements, including kinship care.”

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