Broken Britain - a land of "men deserts"?

14 June 2013

Now that the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has published its report into family breakdown in Britain, we've looked at whether the claims that appeared in its 'teaser' press release stand up to scrutiny.

The CSJ's press release noted that:

"Lone parent families are increasing at a rate of more than 20,000 a year and will total more than two million by the time of the next election"

True. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) collects data on family size and composition. From the latest release, we can see that while there hasn't been a consistent rise in the number of lone parent families, the overall trend is one of growth, which averages out at an extra 22,000 of them per year.

Of course, while the number of lone parent families has increased, and now - as the graph shows - looks set to pass two million, there's also been an overall increase in the UK population. But looking more closely at the data shows that a greater proportion of families with dependent children are headed by just one parent:

It's also true, as the CSJ observes in its report, that "a record number of children - over three million - [are] growing up in lone parent households". In 2012, 3.16 million children (of a total of over 13 million) were being raised by a single parent. 

Most of these single parents are mothers. In 2012, as the CSJ point out, only 8% of lone parent families had a single father at their head. This number has remained relatively steady since 1996 (when it peaked at 10%), so there's no clear trend one way or the other.

Of course, just because a child is living with only their mother or father doesn't necessarily mean they don't see the other parent on a regular basis. And, as many have argued, the fact that a child is living in a single parent household doesn't necessarily mean that they're at a disadvantage.

We'll be providing more analysis of the CSJ's report next week.


Image courtesy of CarbonNY

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