Sharp rise in single parent families ends

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The Independent Online
THE rise in the number of single parent families in the Seventies and Eighties tailed off in the first two years of this decade, a survey published yesterday showed.

It revealed that between 1971 and 1992 the proportion of one-parent families rose from 8 per cent to 21 per cent but that the number had altered little since 1990.

However, the number of children in those families is lower, 1.7 on average, than in families of a married or cohabiting couple (1.9). The proportion of households with married or cohabiting couples and dependent children was 24 per cent, compared with 31 per cent in 1979.

But the most common type of household is a married or cohabiting couple with no dependent children (36 per cent); this accords with a gradual reduction in the average size of a household from 2.91 in 1971 to 2.45 in 1992.

By contrast the average size of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households is highest at more than 5.13.

Almost 60 per cent of women aged 18 to 49 were married, compared to 74 per cent in 1979, and 21 per cent of non-married women were cohabiting compared with 11 per cent in 1979.

The cohabitation rate for single, never married, women aged 18 to 49 more than doubled between 1981 and 1992, from 9 per cent to 21 per cent.

Fifteen per cent of the population consulted a National Health Service doctor, with women more likely than men to see their GP. The most marked difference was in the 16 to 44 age group where 18 per cent of women consulted their doctor, compared with 9 per cent of men, the General Household Survey 1992 shows.

Eighty-three per cent of all NHS GP consultations took place in surgeries. The number of home visits since 1971 has more than halved, from 22 per cent to 10 per cent in 1992.

Male smokers puff away at 118 cigarettes a week but most would like to give up. Women are little better, smoking an average 97. Fifteen per cent of them reach for a cigarette within five minutes of waking up in the morning.

Men drink an average 15.9 units a week, equivalent to about eight pints of beer, which is three times more than women, who take about 5.4 units.

But the survey says 27 per cent of males over 18 drink the recommended maximum 21 units a week or more. Eleven per cent of women reach or exceed their maximum recommended 14 units a week.

Six per cent of men and 2 per cent of women are drinking far too much alcohol, up to 50 units a week for men and 35 units for women.

General Household Survey 1992 available from HMSO, price pounds 15.85

(Graphic omitted)