Traditional family declines further

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The Independent Online
A SHARP increase in the number of households headed by a lone mother and a continuing move away from the traditional family unit are recorded by the survey, writes Will Bennett.

One-fifth of families with dependant children were headed by lone parents, the vast majority of them mothers, when the study was conducted in 1990.

While the proportion of homes run by lone fathers remained constant at 2 per cent, the number headed by lone mothers increased from 15 per cent in 1989 to 18 per cent the following year.

The proportion of divorcees, separated women and single mothers each increased by 1 per cent and the survey shows that such households face major disadvantages in housing, education and standards of living. It says: 'The differences in income between lone parent families and other families are striking. In 1990, 53 per cent of lone parent families lived in households with a weekly income of pounds 100 or less compared with only 4 per cent of married or cohabiting families.'

Only 29 per cent of lone parents were buying their own homes, compared with 70 per cent of couples. They were more likely to live in terrace houses, flats or rooms and less likely to be in detached or semi-detached homes.

The survey shows that the average size of households continued to decline, to 2.46 in 1990.