Family: Perspectives: Trends

Trends in the family: answers

Statistics for 2004 compared with 1996

What has changed? How has it changed? Why has it changed?
Extended families
(working class)
In early phases of industrialisation, extended families with kinship connections grew. In more modern societies, they have declined back to the symmetrical family and other forms. Early industrialisation needed large families to support people otherwise in the factory and in towns; today better wages and the State providing functions outside the family allows it to be smaller.
Cohabitation It has increased, in fact from 1980 it has approximately doubled so about one quarter of non-married women are not married. There is less stigma to cohabiting in part due to the decline in Christian influence.
Lone-parent families They have risen in number and proportion. The rise is due to breakdowns in cohabiting relationships and marriage, changing roles of males and absence of economic support, State support and provision, more separations and divorces.
Dual worker families These have become more common. Although wages have risen, a good standard of living needs two working partners, and attitudes have changed allowing women to work when married (impossible for professional women in the 1950s).
Reconstituted families Remarriage has become more common. When people remarry - this might be called serial monogamy - the new partners bring children from a former relationship together.
Single person households Living alone has become more common requiring more but smaller properties such as flats. Work has ceased to be lifelong and requires more mobility; as a result individuals have detached economic functions from family functions and even sexual functions, and so live alone more often.