21st Century Families come in all shapes and sizes

Family sizes and structures are much more diverse today than they were in the 1960s, according to findings from the Age 11 Survey of Child of the New Century.

Researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies compared the Children of the New Century to a similar study of people born in 1958. They found that in 1969, most 11-year-olds lived with two natural parents. But for the millennium generation, ‘family’ can mean a lot of different things. Many more children today live in step- or lone-parent families, and a few live with grandparents or other relatives.

Types of families at the Age 11 Survey:

  • 61 per cent of the Children of the New Century lived with two natural parents at age 11.
  • 26 per cent lived in a lone-parent family (and about 6 per cent of these families were headed by a single father).
  • 12 per cent lived in step-families.
  • Just under 1 per cent lived with grandparents, relatives, adoptive or foster parents.

Family life was also unlikely to change much over the years for the generation born in 1958. However, nearly one in four Children of the New Century had experienced some form of change in their family make-up since they were born. Often this was because parents split up or formed new relationships.

Most Children of the New Century were very satisfied with their families, regardless of the type. Three quarters of the children of the new century reported being ‘completely happy’ with their families. There was very little difference in happiness between children from two-parent, lone-parent, step-parent and other homes.