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Conference Paper Cabinet Office, Strategy Unit Lunchtime Seminar

The New Dynamics of Family Formation


Publication date

05 Mar 2007


The presentation examines the major changes in the timing of family formation and dissolution in people's lives over recent generations. It compares women born in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It also investigates social differentiation in these changes, comparing women whose highest qualification is GCSE/O-level or lower with those with a higher qualification than that.
The presentation shows that most of the important changes in the patterns of family formation and dissolution vary by women's educational attainments. In particular, among women born in the 1970s, those with higher qualifications (above GCSE/O-level):
1. enter a first partnership later;
2. are less likely to have their first birth outside a live-in partnership;
3. are less likely to have their first birth in a cohabiting union;
4. become a mother later;
5. are less likely to dissolve a cohabiting union or marriage;
6. are less likely to become a lone mother.
The developments over time and the social differentiation of these have implications for the types of families in which children grow up, for family support and for public policies relating to social security and housing.


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