Family Abuse Rake, Dr Katherine
How 'experts' are trying to kill off the traditional family: Trendy thinktank claims most of us live in alternative set-ups
By Steve Doughty
Last updated at 12:00 PM on 6th December 2011
Only one in six people in Britain think they live as part of a traditional family, according to claims by a new think-tank yesterday.
Apparently, only a small minority come from ‘traditional nuclear families’ with married parents and two or more children, the Centre for the Modern Family said.
Its report said the traditional family is out of date and that the Government should consider ways to support alternative family forms that are adopted by the majority.
But the group’s research and findings were criticised by analysts who said that according to official statistics, six out of ten of all families with children are led by two married parents.
Family researcher and author Jill Kirby said: ‘A large majority of couples are still married.
‘By painting the traditional family as a tiny minority this report is giving a false picture of life in Britain. It makes one wonder what their agenda is.
‘Their data is absurdly fixed. It is at odds with the official data on the family.’
And one of the panel of experts that drew up the report, financed by the Scottish Widows insurance group, acknowledged that the low figure thrown up by its research was connected to the way the questions were framed.
The report comes at a key moment for Government policy on the family, with a gap appearing to widen between supporters of ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith who would like to see the tax and benefit system changed to support married couples, and those who believe state support for marriage should take a low priority.
Traditional family? Apparently only a small minority come from 'traditional nuclear families' with married parents and two or more children (posed by models)
David Cameron’s latest pledge is to extend the full title of marriage to same-sex couples who, at present, can become civil partners but do not have the right to call themselves married.
The Centre for the Modern Family produced its findings from research that involved ‘in-depth interviews’ with an unspecified group of people and a phone survey of 3,000 people carried out by the Futures Company.
The research was then examined by a panel that included Scottish Widows chairman Lord Leitch, a Labour donor who advised Tony Blair and retained close links with Gordon Brown’s administration, and Dr Katherine Rake, who leads the Family and Parenting Institute, a state-funded quango.
The report said that ‘just 16 per cent of people define themselves as part of a 'traditional' family of two married parents living together with two or more children’.
Lord Leitch said: ‘What is striking about our new research is how quickly new family structures and our attitudes towards them have changed in the past few decades.
David Cameron's latest pledge is to extend the full title of marriage to same-sex couples
‘So quickly, in fact, we suspect society has failed to keep up with the dramatic changes we are seeing in family life across the UK.
‘By society, I mean Government and public policy. But I also mean companies, charities and our public services.’
The report said: ‘The majority of people feel their family is unrepresented by politicians, the media and advertising, with 52 per cent claiming the Government does not take their family set-up into account.
‘The findings indicate family structures are becoming increasingly diverse. A quarter of all couples are childless, and one in five lives alone.
As a result of this, half of the population believe society is out of date in its view of the family.
‘In addition to married mums and dads with two or more children, Britons are increasingly likely to describe single-parent, same-sex, or unmarried couples as “proper” families.’
But Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, one of the centre’s panel, acknowledged that the findings on numbers of traditional families have been influenced by the research methods used.
‘The 16 per cent is connected to the way they phrased it,’ he said.
‘We did not assume that 16 per cent of people were married with kids. I would be stunned if that were the case. They are doing it on the basis of 2.4 kids.’
The latest official figures on family structure were published by the Office for National Statistics in April.
They show that 60 per cent of families living with children aged 16 and under, or under 18 if still at school, are headed by married parents.
If all families – defined as all couples, including same-sex couples and couples who are childless or whose children have grown up, together with single parent families – are counted, married families make up 68 per cent of the total.
The figures apply to 2010 and were gathered from the ONS Labour Force Survey, which covers 60,000 homes.