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One of those societal changes

Single parents are no longer a tiny minority: one in four families are single-parent households; about 90% are with a single mother.

That’s a significant change in what, two generations?

14 thoughts on “One of those societal changes”

  1. “All agree there is never enough attention or money to go around;”

    As it should be. You want to get boned by terrible fathers, you can sort out how to pay for it when the bastard sprogs are produced. Go on on the game. If you want men to pay for the results of your horizontal jogging, those men should get some horizontal jogging from you, too.

    The rise in bastard children is almost entirely about incentives. 2.3% of Japanese children are born to unmarried mothers. Why? Because the state doesn’t help you much if you have a bastard child. So that changes things like mate selection, parental attitudes to protecting children. It’s 16% of children in the UK, and that proportion is growing.

  2. There have been a lot of other quite nasty societal changes in those two generations. All completely unrelated to single parenthood, of course.

    How long before Guardian encouragement that we “celebrate” single parenthood turns into government policy, a bank holiday, and a week of music by single mums on Radio 3?

  3. Changing demographics may or may not be a problem? Fertility rates in western Europe have been below replacement level since the 1970s but populations have continued to grow – the population has been refreshed and replenished by migration. An increasing number of young women don’t want kids or if they do just one or two. Not enough says conventional opinion. An increasing number of men aren’t interested beyond the basic necessary function. If therefore we think it desirable and necessary to offer single women incentives…affordable childcare, flexible working, blah, blah, blah.

  4. It is incentives you can often get a nicer home as a young person if you are a single mum than if you work. Hopefully that will change in the future.

  5. Slight reminder to everybody: single parent families don’t just occur because of casual sex and irresponsible fathers. I was raised for many years by a single mother, because my father died of a heart attack when I was eight. Before that they’d been happily married. Similarly a school friend of mine lost his father at four because of a drunk driver.

  6. AtC – true, and a wild guess suggests that would be five-nines of the 10% of the 25%, plus some much smaller fraction of the other 90%.

    The other thing would be how long single parenthood actually lasts.

  7. It’s not binary. Most kids are born to parents who are together, and about half of couples have broken up by the time the kid is 18. It would be interesting to see the shape of the curve – do couples break up when the kids are tiny, or do they wait until older?

    Bernie G,
    An increasing number of young women don’t want kids or if they do just one or two.

    Because they start too late. If you pop out your first kid at 18 or 19, then it’s easy to reach half a dozen kids before the end of your childbearing years. But if you start at 30 (or later, increasingly) then there’s scant chance of having more than two.

  8. AtC,

    And that’s what we created the welfare state for. Not so that Chardonnay can treat her vagina like a clown car.

  9. @Andrew M…starting too late.

    There’s no one size fits all but most women now want a career of sorts. By the time you’ve finished your post-grad, secured employment, and progressed up the first couple of rungs you are well into your 30s. The falling birth rate probably has less to do with women refusing to become mothers as their stopping at one or two. Most couples can manage two kids and retain the two career trajectory – a third child is a big ask if you want to keep both careers alive. It means a larger home, bigger car, significantly more expense. Myself and Mrs G. have eight siblings between us. The ten of us have produced seven sons and one daughter. They in turn have produced even less. It’s a one way bet.

  10. “That’s a significant change in what, two generations?”

    Three generations ago there were a few around, mainly for sad and obvious reasons.

  11. Andrew: it seems every time I hear something reported as “X, a single mother” it’s predomently followed by “…of a newborn”. To which I shout at the radio: That’s. Not. How. Biology. Works! If you’ve got a babby, by definition, YOU ARE NOT SINGLE! Where do you think the baby come from????

  12. @ Arthur the cat
    When I was at school I knew a number of orphans: there was sympathy instead of the stigma that attaches to single-parent households these days. The sympathy was additionally merited because Attlee’s inflation devalued the already inadequate war widow’s pension introduced by Asquith.

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