The UK has the highest rate of family breakdown in Western Europe, “alarming” findings show.
For the first time, the proportion of children living in single parent households has been found to be higher in the UK than all other Western European countries.
According to the latest figures from Eurostat, the European Union’s official statistics body, almost one in four UK children were found to be living in single parent households in 2012.
This means that the UK has jumped to pole position, having been placed between second and fifth in Western Europe since 2005.
The average number of children living in single parent households in Europe as a whole is around one in six.
Commenting on the findings Harry Benson, Research Director for the Marriage Foundation, said: “These figures are alarming.
“Evidence clearly shows the negative impact of being brought up in single parent homes. These children are less likely to attain qualifications, more prone to experience unemployment and are more likely to commit crime.
“Being brought up in a stable two-parent household is essential in affording children the decent start in life they deserve.”
Benson stressed that while most lone parents do an excellent job with fewer resources, not many will have chosen this lifestyle.
He argued that the rising number of lone parents is not due to a rising divorce rate, but rather it is because of “the meteoric rise in the number of children brought up by unmarried parents”.
Benson urged policy makers to “face up to the realities of a generation brought up in single parent households” by “supporting existing marriages”.
It is vital, Benson concluded, that society “counter the ongoing narrative against marriage” and “restore trust and confidence in marriage for the sake of generations to come”.
In 2012, critics warned that more British children are being raised by single parents because the tax and benefits system “encourages transient shack-ups”.