More British children are being raised by single parents because the tax and benefit system “encourages transient shack-ups”.
One in five British children live with a single mother or father. This figure is some 35 per cent higher than in Germany and 50 per cent higher than in France.
Researcher and author Patricia Morgan points out that these are the countries whose tax and benefits systems reward parents who stay together.
She said: “You can look at these figures and see immediately which countries help couples through tax and benefits.
“In France, people get help if they draw up legal family contracts. In Germany, Holland and Italy, married people get tax relief and tax relief for children.”
She added: “By contrast, our system encourages transient shack-ups.”
Jill Kirby, an author on family development, warned: “Unless our Government acts to implement pro-marriage policies, the gap with the rest of Europe will continue to widen.”
Recent studies highlight that a child brought up by one parent is much more likely to underachieve at school and grow up to suffer drug, alcohol, behavioural and employment problems.
Meanwhile official figures show that one in three unmarried couples split before their child’s fifth birthday compared with one in eleven married couples.
The figures come from Luxembourg-based Eurostat.
Before the 2010 election the Conservative party pledged to introduce tax breaks for married couples but this has been attacked by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Earlier this month Nick Clegg said that in an ‘open society’ it would be wrong to encourage “a particular family form.”