1960s to the Present - Dynamic Changes

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Societal Changes Since the 1960s

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of single parents, same-sex families, multi-generational families, and renting during the last 50-60 years. Statistics for same-sex families is much more recent, but has experienced a large amount of growth.

Single Parents in the UK


  • There are approximately 1.8 million single parents in the UK in 2019. They make up 22.7% of families with dependent children. This number has remained around 25% for over a decade.
  • Less than 1% are teenagers.
  • 90% are women. 2% of these women are widows.
  • The average age of a single parent in 2019 is 39 years old.
  • 44% of single parents had their children within a marriage.
  • 21% are from a black or minority ethnic background, compared to 16% being white.
  • 28% have a disability.
  • 55% have one child, 32.1% have two children, and 13% have three or more.
  • 49% of these children live in poverty.
  • 68% of these parents work. 11% are self-employed. Self-employment is seen as one of the ways to have a more balanced work life and makes it easier to manage childcare. 41% of single parents struggle to afford child-care. Some choose to work part-time to balance their responsibilities.

Historical Data

  • The proportion of families headed by single parents increased from 1970-1990, but has remained steady since 2001.
  • The proportion of families with dependent children which were single parent families doubled between 1971 and 1991 (8% to 19%). This has been contributed to the increase in divorce, the increase in cohabitation, and children born outside of marriage.
  • The number of birth outside of a marriage doubled between 19885 and 2001 (19% to 40%).

Same Sex Parents in the UK

  • The number of same-sex couple families has grown by more than 50% since 2015. There were four times more same-sex coupled families in 2018 than in 2015.
  • In 2017, there were 68,000 same sex married families in the UK. This represents 29.4% of all same sex families. In 2015, this number was 8.9%. Same sex marriage was introduced in 2014.
  • When just looking at couples that are families, in 2015 there were 152,000 same-sex couple families in the UK. In 2018, there were 232,000. An increase of 53.2%.
  • One out of every eight adoptions in the UK are by same-sex couples. There were 3,820 adoptions in England in 2018. 450 of those were same-sex couples (12%). A decade ago, just 80 adoptions were to same-sex couples.

Cohabitating Couples in the UK

  • The number of cohabitating couples that have families are growing faster than married couples. This number is up 25.8% over the last decade.
  • There are currently 3.4 million cohabiting couple families.

Multi-Generational Families in the UK

  • In 2001, there were 325,000 households with multi-generational families. In 2013 that number rose to 419,000.
  • From 2009 to 2014, there was a 38% increase in the number of multi-generational families.
  • Some people choose to live with their parents for economic reasons. Others choose to because it makes caring for family members easier. Housing affordability and breaking into the housing market has been cited by many as a chief reason. Other reasons include being able to afford a better property, help with childcare, and the social benefits that a multi-generational living situation provide.
  • Four out of five multi-generational households are White British, although some ethnic minority groups are more likely to adopt this lifestyle
  • It is estimated that there are currently 1.8 million multi-generational homes today in the UK (7% of all households). Of that number 20% are 25-34 year olds that live with their parents. This number is up from 16% in 1991.
  • The trend is a growing one. So much so that architects are planning multi-generational homes that are three-story townhouses with multiple entrances.

Owning Versus Renting in the UK

  • In 2019, 41.2% of households headed by a person aged 25-34 owned their homes, while 40.9% rented.
  • In 2016, in London, the number of rented homes was more than owner occupied homes. They predicted that by 2025, the proportion of renters would be 60%. This shift has been blamed on the increasing costs of owning a home. Additionally, new housing has not kept up with the growth in population. 898,000 households were rented, while 883,000 were owner-occupied. Just 16 years earlier, in 2000, 60% of the homes were owner-occupied.
  • In 2016, the average price for a home in London was £643,843. The annual salary was £34,000. These two factors make buying a home impossible for many.
  • 86% of the public state they would like to own their own home.
  • In the UK, around 5 million household (21%) were rented privately in 2017. That number is predicted to be 5.79 million (24%) by 2021.
  • 68% of renters expect to still be renting three years later.
  • Other than affordability, 8% stated they were renting because they did not want the responsibility, 6% rented because of their work, 6% were downsizing, and 5% did not want to be stuck in one location.

Historical Data- Buying/Renting

  • For people born in the late 1970s, 43% owned their home by the age of 27. For those born just five years later, that number drops to 33%. For those born in the late 80s, the number is 25%.
  • A little over 20 years ago, 64% of 25- to 34-year-olds in London and the South East owned a home, a figure that has now halved, to just 32%.
  • Fifty years ago more than half (51%) of the English housing market was owner occupied. From the turn of the century the number of owner occupiers rapidly increased and plateaued in the 90s. From 2006 there was a slight reduction of owner occupiers with a matching increase in private renters.
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Changes in the Homemaker Role

The role of the homemaker in the UK has changed drastically over the last fifty years. Where working outside of the home used to be seen as a detriment to the family and the children, it is now a necessity for the majority of women who are mothers.

The 1960s UK Homemaker

  • World War I and World War II was largely responsible for women entering the workforce. Between the wars only 10% of wives were formally employed outside the home. By 1951, this number had doubled. By 1961, 35% of married women worked outside of the home.
  • Young wives tended to work until they had their children, but a large amount of working women during these times were older mothers re-entering the workforce after their children were older. Women tended to re-enter the workforce once their children were school-aged, often part-time.
  • Interestingly, during this time, women working outside the home were viewed as needing to because of a short-coming of their husband's inability to provide, or because of the absence of a male breadwinner.
  • It was assumed at the time that children needed a stay at home mother to keep from damaging the children. The decline of the traditional housewife is seen as one of the most significant societal shifts.

Chronological Rise in Rates of Working UK Mothers

  • 1975- 50% of mothers between the ages of 25-54 work full time.
  • 1993- 2.7 million mothers are in the work force.
  • 1996- 3.7 million mothers are in the workforce.
  • 2008- Most parents simply can not afford for one of them not to work. In 2008, couples felt they needed £31,731 before they could afford for the mother to stay at home. The average male income in 2008 was £28,464.
  • 2000-66.2% of mothers are in the workforce.
  • 2015- 72% of mothers between the ages of 25-54 work full time.
  • 2017- almost 75% are working mothers (4.9 million mothers). The rise was driven by mother's of three and four year olds in full-time work. A quarter of these moms were in professional occupations. The rise is in direct correlation to the launch of 15 hours of free childcare in 2011. From 2011-2017, there was an 8 percentage point rise in the numbers of working mothers.
  • 2017- 30 hours of free childcare is introduced in September for children that are 3-4 years old. To qualify, each parent or the single parent must earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at minimum wage.
  • 2017- Mothers with very young children have the lowest employment levels (65%). This may be due to the high cost of childcare and the lack of family-friendly jobs. They are most likely to work part-time jobs. Mothers with children between the ages of 16-18 are the most likely to work full-time (58.3%).
  • 2019- 75.1% of mothers are in the workforce.
  • 2019- Families with fewer children are more likely to have both parents working. 55.1% of families with one child have both parents working full time, whereas only 36.3% of families with three or more children have both parents working.
  • 2019- 1.8 million single parent families with dependent children. 69.9% of theses single parents are employed.
  • 2019- According to the Office of National Statistics, 28.5% of working mothers with a child under the age of 14 said they had reduced their working hours to accommodate or reduce the cost of childcare. Only 4.8% of fathers reported the same.

Single Parents in the UK

  • Single parents are less likely to be in employment than parents that are a couple. In 2017, 68.5% of single mothers were employed, compared to 75% of mothers in a two parent household.
  • If the child is under the age of three, that number drops to 48.4%.

Stay At Home Dads in the UK

  • In 2018, there were an average of 223,000 stay at home fathers in the UK. This number has been on the decline. Some feel this is due to men growing tired of the thankless job of raising children.
  • UK started keeping statistics on stay at home dads in 1993, when 111,000 men stayed at home to raise the family. This number peaked in 2017 at 262,000.