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June 11, 2008 / C H Thompson

Cereal packet family (part 2)

Is the cereal packet family the dominant family form in Britain today?

The answer to such a question can only be answered through looking at official data. Governments regularly collect data in order that they can see the trends in UK family life.

Using the data shown in Figure 1, 2 and 3 below answer the following questions:

  1. What is tends are evident in Fig 1?
  2. What trend is evident between 1971 and 2002 in Fig 2?
  3. What was the most significant trend between 1971 and 1998, again in Fig 2?
  4. Look at graph Fig 3 and describe the trends evident in the data?
  5. Using the answers to the above questions comment on the usefulness of the cereal packet family and why the ‘cereal packet’ imagine is still popular with advertisers.

Fig 1

A summary of changes over time
Marriage & cohabitation

Living in Britain 2002

Great Britain, 1979 to 2002
Percentage of single, divorced and separated women aged 18 to 49 cohabiting by legal marital status: Great Britain, 1979 to 2002 http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=824

Fig 2

A summary of changes over time
Households

Living in Britain 2002
Mean household size, Great Britain, 1971 to 2002
Mean household size, Great Britain, 1971 to 2002

Between 1971 and 1991 there was a decline in the average size of household in Great Britain, from 2.91 persons to 2.48. It continued to decline though at a slower rate throughout the next decade, falling to 2.32 by 1998. Since then it has remained fairly constant. In 2002 the average number of persons per household was 2.31.

Since 1971 there have also been changes in the composition of households. In particular, these have included an increase in the proportion of one-person households, and of households headed by a lone parent.

Between 1971 and 1998, the overall proportion of one-person households almost doubled from 17 per cent to 31 per cent, and the proportion of households consisting of one person aged 16 to 59 tripled from 5 per cent to 15 per cent.

Over the last five years there have been no statistically significant changes in the overall proportion of adults living in one-person households, and among people aged 65 and over the proportion living alone has remained relatively stable since the mid-1980s.

Households by household type, Great Britain, 1979 and 2002
Households by household type, Great Britain, 1979 and 2002

The proportion of households containing a married or cohabiting couple with dependent children declined from just under one third of all households (31 per cent) in 1979 to just over one fifth (21 per cent) in 2002.

By comparison, the proportion of households with dependent children headed by a lone parent rose from 4 per cent of all households in 1979 to 7 per cent in 1993. It has remained relatively constant since then.

For more detailed information, please download the Households, families & people PDF on the right-hand side of the page.Source: Living in Britain 2002, published 2004 http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=818
Fig 3

A summary of changes over time
Families with dependent children

Living in Britain 2002
Great Britain, 1971 to 2002
Families with dependent children by family type: Great Britain, 1971 to 2002

As well as measuring changes in the composition of households, the GHS also provides information about the composition of families. The two measures have followed similar trends over time.

There has been a decline in the proportion of families headed by a married or cohabiting couple and a corresponding increase in the proportion headed by a lone parent. In 2002 73 per cent of families in Great Britain consisted of a married or cohabiting couple and their dependent children. This is a proportion that has declined steadily since 1971, when 92 per cent of families were of this type.

The large growth in the proportion of lone-parent families (from 8 per cent of families in 1971 to over a quarter of families [27 percent] in 2002) has mainly been among families headed by a lone mother. Lone-father families have accounted for 1 to 3 per cent of families since 1971, whereas the percentage of lone-mother families has risen from 7 in 1971 to 24 per cent in 2002.

The percentage of families headed by mothers who have never married (i.e. single) has risen from 1 in 1971 to 12 per cent in 2002. The percentage of families headed by mothers who were previously married, and are now divorced, widowed or separated, has risen from 6 to 12 per cent during the same period.

For more detailed information, please download the Households, families & people PDF on the right-hand side of the page.Source: Living in Britain 2002, published 2004 http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=819

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. fgdgdgdf / Dec 18 2012 5:37 pm

    good

  2. fgdgdgdf / Dec 18 2012 5:38 pm

    very helpful and useful.

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  1. Cereal packet family (part 1) « Sociology at Twynham School

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