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Children in Families

Released: 14 April 2011 Download PDF

Dependent children by family type, UK, 2001 and 2010 (millions)

Dependent children by family type, UK, 2001 and 2010
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Fall in number of dependent children in married couple families

The number of dependent children living in families in the UK has remained stable between 2001 and 2010 at 13.3 million. While the number of dependent children has not significantly changed, the types of families in which they live have changed.

The chart shows that the number of dependent children living in married couple families decreased by 673,000 in 2001 to 8.4 million in 2010. Over the same period, dependent children living in opposite sex cohabiting couple families increased by 438,000 to 1.8 million and those living in lone parent families increased by 220,000 to 3.1 million.

Families with dependent children

Between 2001 and 2010 the number of families with dependent children increased by 4 per cent to 7.7 million in 2010. Of these, the percentage of families with only one dependent child increased by four percentage points to 46 per cent, while the percentage of families with two or more dependent children in the family decreased. This does not necessarily mean that the average number of children born to a woman is falling as it may simply reflect the increasing age at which women are having children.

Between 2001 and 2010 opposite sex cohabiting couple families with dependent children increased by a third to 1.1 million in 2010, while lone parent families with dependent children increased by 12 per cent to 2.0 million. Married couple families with dependent children remained the most common family type with dependent children, despite the number decreasing by four per cent to 4.6 million in 2010.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Dependent children are those aged under 16 living with at least one parent, or aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, excluding all children who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household.
  2. A family is a married, civil partnered or cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent with at least one child. Children may be dependent or non-dependent.
  3. Less than one per cent of dependent children were living in civil partner and same sex cohabiting couple families in 2010. Therefore the figures are too small to draw meaningful conclusions from and have been excluded from the above analysis.
  4. For further information please contact families@ons.gsi.gov.uk.
  5. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Further information

Families and Households - Estimates of families by type, including married and cohabiting couple families and lone parents. Tables on household size and household types are also provided.
Focus on Families - 'Presents estimates of families by type, including married and cohabiting couple families and lone parents. It also examines the health, unpaid care and education of families.'
Social Trends 41 - Household and families (Pdf 436Kb) - Number 41, 2011 edition


Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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