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Families are changing

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Families have changed over the past thirty years. This chapter provides an overview of the changes in family formation, household structure, work‐life balance, and child well‐being. Fertility rates have been persistently low in many OECD countries leading to smaller families. With marriage rates down and divorce rates up, there are an increasing number of children growing up in sole‐parent or reconstituted families. Sole‐parent families are of particular concern due to the high incidence of poverty among such households. Poverty risks are highest in jobless families and lowest amongst dual‐earner families. Important gains in female educational attainment and investment in more family‐friendly policies have contributed to a rise in female and maternal employment, but long‐standing differences in gender outcomes in the labour market still persist. The increased labour market participation of mothers has had only a limited effect on the relative child poverty rate as households without children have made even larger income gains. Child well‐being indicators have moved in different directions: average family incomes have risen but child poverty rates are also up. More youngsters are now in employment or education than before, while evidence on health outcomes is mixed. Overall, are families doing better? Some undoubtedly are, but many others face serious constraints when trying to reconcile work and family aspirations.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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