One-parent families on rise

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British children are increasingly likely to be brought up within one-parent families, according to new figures.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of youngsters lived in a single parent household last year – treble the proportion that did so in 1972, data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows.

In contrast, the number of people living in a 'traditional' family environment, comprising of a married couple with dependent children, has dropped to 37 per cent, down from 52 per cent in 1971.

According to the ONS' annual Social Trends report lone parent families are three times more likely to live within rented accommodation than two-parent households and are also more likely to live in substandard accommodation.

Twenty-nine per cent of one-parent families lived in buildings which did not meet certain minimum standards in 2004, compared to 23 per cent of two-parent families, the report said.

Meanwhile, soaring house prices combined with costs associated with the growing number of students entering higher education have resulted in more people in their 20s choosing to remain living with their parents.

House prices rose by 204 per cent between 1995 and 2005, against wage rises of just 92 per cent, the ONS data showed.

As a result, 60 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 in England were still living with their parents in 2006.

There has also been a rise in the number of couples living without children, up from 19 per cent in 1971 to 25 per cent, with the increase partly a result of the growing proportion of women who are delaying starting a family.

A growing number of people are also living alone, with the number of one-person households up from three million in 1971 to seven million in 2005, with the most significant increase among those aged between 25 and 44.

"Recent decades have seen marked changes in household patterns," the ONS report said.

"The traditional family household of a married couple with a child or children is less common, while there has been an increase in lone-parent households."

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