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Death of Family: Half of Children Not Living With Both Parents by 14


A study from the Marriage Foundation suggested that nearly half of children in Britain are no longer living with both of their biological parents by the time they reach 14 years of age.

Drawing on a dataset of 4,476 first-born children in the UK conducted by the Millennium Cohort Study and weighing the sample to represent the national population, the Marriage Foundation revealed on Monday that 46 per cent of children in the country are not living with both their natural parents by the age of 14.

The Marriage Foundation found that the majority of such cases (70 per cent) were a result of breakups from non-married couples, while 30 per cent were from families of married couples. For children whose biological parents were still together by the age of 14, 84 per cent had married parents, compared to just 16 per cent who were unmarried.

The data also showed that 60 per cent of parents who had never married were separated at the time of their child’s 14th birthday, compared to 21 per cent who married before the child was born and 32 per cent who married following the birth.

Harry Benson, Research Director of the Marriage Foundation, said that even when “considering a wide range of socio-demographic controls – such as ethnicity, age, time lived together, education and relationship happiness”, the numbers still indicated a greater probability of never-married parents to split up at 46 per cent, compared to 26 per cent for those who married before the birth and 27 per cent after.

The results back up similar findings from the Children’s Commissioner last year which found the 44 per cent of those born in 2000 spent some time living outside of a traditional nuclear family by the time they reached 17.

Mr Benson said per The Times: “Marriage provides relationship clarity, and encourages good things like sacrifice and forgiveness.

“This is why couples who have tied the knot tend to be more stable and more likely to weather the challenges that life throws at them… why marriage accounts for lower levels of family breakdown than other less stable forms of relationship.

“No wonder a huge majority of couples who are still together by the time their children become teenagers are married.”

The founder of the think tank, Sir Paul Coleridge said: “Every experienced parent knows that if adolescents are to successfully navigate the scary teenage years they need a secure and a stable family environment.

“If you want to experience the rich rewards of fully enjoying your children… marrying the other parent is a crucial first step.”

The Marriage Foundation report called on the government to do more to support marriage. This may be a big ask, however, given that the supposedly Conservative government has in its decade-plus in power demonstrated open hostility towards the traditional family.

For example, stay-at-home mothers were enraged in 2020 when then-Home Secretary Priti Patel demanded that the government do more to incentivise the 8.5 million “economically inactive” people — nearly two million of whom were women who decided to stay home to raise their children — into employment.

The government’s tax structure already punishes traditional family structures, with the state only taxing individuals rather than recognising family units, meaning that families reliant upon a single income of £50,000 will take home less money than two working parents on salaries of £25,000, thereby incentivising both partners to work rather than stay at home with children.

Despite the cost of living crisis, Prime Minister Sunak’s government doubled down on punishing middle-class families, relying on what is referred to as a “stealth tax” whereby the government freezes the tax band thresholds. The result will likely see thousands of families placed in artificially higher brackets given that their wages increased due to inflation, but in reality, in many cases keep their relative income at the same level as the cost of living also increases.

On top of that, family benefit programmes were also frozen, meaning that the same families will over time be priced out of the government programmes by the same mechanism.