Matthew Barrett and Tim Montgomerie
A new Centre for Social Justice report by Professor Rebecca Probert of Warwick University and Dr Samantha Callan, the CSJ's senior family researcher, has shown that Britain’s levels of births outside marriage are at the highest point for at least 200 years.
The research shows that:
- Levels of births outside marriage were the same in the 1950s as the 1750s, at around 5%;
- The percentage of births outside marriage in the England and Wales hovered around 5% (except during the two world wars) before rising in the 1960s onwards;
- By the late 1970s, this figure was above 10%;
- By 1991 it was 30%
- Today it is 45%.
The research refutes the assertion of a number of academics and campaigners that current levels of cohabitation and family breakdown are not unusually high compared to other points in Britain's history. The CSJ research confirms that the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s was a turning point in the state of Britain's families. Long-standing family research has shown that children brought up by lone parents are much more likely to be unsuccessful at school, and 50% more likely to have alcohol problems.
Gavin Poole, Executive Director of the CSJ, said:
“Current high levels of cohabitation are a key factor in the rise in family breakdown in our country and this paper shows that we have not been here before. The CSJ has consistently argued, from the evidence, that marriage and commitment tend to stabilise and strengthen families and cannot be ignored.”
Recent research showed that Britain had one of the world's least family-friendly tax systems. In today's Telegraph Jill Kirby encourages the Coalition government to look abroad to correct this:
"Most European countries provide support for marriage or long-term cohabitation through their tax systems, with a range of options from income-splitting to homecare allowances, ensuring that families bear less of the nation’s tax burden while they have children to look after. These allowances remain popular and the trend shows no sign of abating."
Read Jill's full article.