Pro-marriage sociologist AH Halsey dies aged 91

A pro-marriage Old Labour academic, who spoke out against family breakdown, has died aged 91.

Professor Albert Henry Halsey was an adviser to the Labour education secretary in the 1960s, and became Britain’s first professor of sociology.

Prof Halsey’s obituary in The Daily Telegraph highlighted that after his retirement he found common ground with “thinkers on the Right about the disastrous effect of permissive attitudes on social cohesion”.


In the foreword to the seminal book “Families Without Fatherhood”, first published in 1992, he wrote that the rapid increase in “divorce, separation, birth outside marriage and one-parent families as well as cohabitation and extra-marital sexual intercourse” could not be denied.

He said: “Many applaud these freedoms. But what should be universally acknowledged is that the children of parents who do not follow the traditional norm (i.e. taking on personal, active and long-term responsibility for the social upbringing of the children they generate) are thereby disadvantaged in many major aspects of their chances of living a successful life”.

Prof Halsey pointed to evidence showing that such children tend “to die earlier, to have more illness, to do less well at school, to exist at a lower level of nutrition, comfort and conviviality, to suffer more unemployment” and to be “more prone” to crime.

Unstable parenting

He also said they are likely to “repeat the cycle of unstable parenting from which they themselves have suffered”.

The Telegraph obituary said he looked back to the time when the heart of the family was “stable marriage, which anchored men into the child-rearing process”.

Prof Halsey’s views have been confirmed by recent research.

Marital homes

According to a major study funded by the Department for Education, children raised in marital homes are better behaved than those brought up by unmarried parents.

Published last month, the research involving around 3,000 children aged three to 16 found that those with married parents showed lower levels of anti-social attitudes and hyperactivity.

And a recent US study showed that the negative impact of divorce on children is the same whether parents remain amicable or not.

The research found that children of divorced parents were more likely than others to have behavioural problems, mental health difficulties, and were at a greater risk of performing poorly at school.