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Increasing complexity of family relationships: lifetime experience of single motherhood and stepfamilies in Great Britain


Author Info

  • Ermisch, John
  • Francesconi, Marco


We investigate the lifetime incidence of single motherhood and the stepfamily formation in Great Britain using both retrospective and panel information contained in the British Household Panel Study, 1991-94. Our analysis indicates that about 40 percent of mothers will spend some time as a single parent. The duration of single parenthood is often short, one-half remaining single mothers for 4 years or less. About three-fourths of these single mothers will form a stepfamily, with 80 percent of these stepfamilies being started by cohabitation and 85 percent following the dissolution of a union. Stepfamilies are not very stable: over one- quarter dissolve within one year. Thus, an increasing proportion of todays young children in Great Britain are likely to experience the changes, tensions and strains which life in single- parent families and stepfamilies often entail. As a consequence, the increasing complexity of inter-household relationships between children and parents has serious implications for the relevance of theoretical views of the operation of the family put forward by social researchers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 96-11.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:96-11

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Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Phone: 44-1206-872957
Fax: 44-1206-873151
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Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK

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Cited by:
  1. Francesconi, Marco & Muthoo, Abhinay, 2003. "An Economic Model of Child Custody," CEPR Discussion Papers 4054, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.


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