information for transformational people

World Map 246The World Family Map 2017 

From a report by The Institute for Family Studies and the Social Trends Institute

IFS and STI have just released the 2017 World Family Map, a fascinating look at family trends all across the developed world, drawing on data from more than 60 countries on 16 indicators of family structure, family socioeconomics, family processes, and family culture. 

It confirms some previous awareness e.g. family stability and marriage. But it also contains some observations which run counter to media headlines. You may be surprised.

Figures used can be quite old for some countries e.g. 2010, but since the recession of 2008 was global the relationships between countries has probably stayed the same. 

Some key findings:

1. The global retreat from marriage decreases family stability for children

Data from the United States and 16 European countries show that children born into cohabiting families are more likely to see their parents split by age 12 than children born into married families in almost every country. Children born to cohabiting couples were over twice as likely to experience at least one maternal union transition by age 12 than children born to married couples.This is regardless of the mother’s education level.

Children born to cohabiting couples do, however, experience far fewer family transitions than children born to single women everywhere. While cohabitation is less stable than marriage even when couples have children together, it offers children a distinct stability advantage compared with being born outside of a union.

Children born to single mothers were about nine times as likely as children born to cohabiting couples to experience at least one maternal union transition by age 12.

Children born to single mothers are more likely to undergo two or more transitions before their twelfth birthday (the average across countries is 19 percent as compared to 7 percent of children born to cohabiting couples, and 6 percent of children born to married couples).

2. Family structure is mainly two-parent.

Two-parent families constitute a majority of families around the globe. In almost all countries across the globe, the majority of children under the age of 18 live with two parents.

Adults are most likely to be partnered in sub-Saharan Africa, which has high proportions of married unions like Asia and the Middle East, but also has moderately high proportions of cohabiting unions.

The lowest rates of nonmarital childbearing occur in Asia and the Middle East, where large proportions of adults are married and few are in cohabiting unions. Nonmarital childbearing occurs at higher rates in Eastern Europe, and still higher rates in North America, Oceania, the rest of Europe, and some countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Central/South America has the world’s highest rates of nonmarital childbearing.

UK has the highest proportion of single parents in Europe:

Country % living with 2 parents % living with 1 parent % living apart from parents
Italy 89% 6%  5%
Poland 89% 11% -
Romania 85% 11% 4%
Germany 83% 17% -
Netherlands               80% 19% 1%
Hungary 80% 15% 5%
France 79% 19% 2%
Spain 79% 19% 2%
Ireland 79% 18% 3%
UK 67% 33% -

3. UK has one of the top education levels in the world

Key measure is the percentage of children in households in which household head has a secondary education (NB does not necessarily relate to attainment) - the following countries are 85% or above; 89% - Canada, Poland, 88% - Japan, 87% - South Korea, Germany,  86% - USA, UK, Sweden. 

Parents’ level of education influences their parenting behaviors and their children’s well-being.

Better-educated parents are more likely to read to their children and provide them with extracurricular activities, books, cognitive stimulation, and high educational expectations.

Such parents are also more likely to be active in their children’s schools and are less likely to use negative discipline techniques.

Internationally, children of well-educated parents demonstrate higher academic achievement and literacy. Parents transmit their education, knowledge, skills, and other aspects of human capital to their sons and daughters.

Parents’ levels of education directly influence their access to social networks and well-paying jobs with benefits. They confer these advantages, in turn, to their children.

4. UK has one of the lowest child poverty levels in the world

Country                                    % of children < 18 who are living at <50% of median income of general population
Netherlands 6%
Sweden 7%
UK 9%
Ireland 10%
Germany 10%
France 11%
Poland 12%
Hungary 17%
Italy 19%
Spain 20%
Romania 26%
Asia 10%-29%
North America 14%-24%
C. & S. America 25%-29%
Australia/NZ 12%-14%
Middle East 21%-27%
South Africa 31%

5. The UK spends the highest proportion of GDP on family benefits in the world

Public spending on family benefits in cash, services, and tax measures, in percent of GDP:

Countries over 2%:
Country %
United Kingdom 4.0
Ireland 3.9
Sweden 3.6
New Zealand 3.3
Hungary 3.3
France 2.9
Australia 2.7
Germany 2.2

6. A high proportion of adults in the UK are highly satisfied with family life

Countries 55% or over
Country % of adults (18+) who are completely or very satisfied with their family life
Argentina     78%
Chile 68%
Philippines               68%
USA     67%
UK 64%
Poland         61%
Canada 60%
Australia 59%
Sweden     57%
Ireland  56%
Spain   55%

The full report can be downloaded from here.

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From a report by The Institute for Family Studies, 13/03/2017

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