One-child families: the new norm

Having 2.4 children is so last decade; more and more of us are settling for just one baby, says new report


Half of all families will be single-child families by 2020. Only-child families have been steadily on the rise recently and, says the Office of National Statistics (ONS), will make up 50% of all families in the UK within the next 7 years.


The number of families with an only child has increased 12% over the last 11 years, according to an ONS report on families and households. And this increase isn’t limited to single-parent families – although they’ve seen the biggest increase – from 52% to 58% since 2003. The number of married couples with just 1 child has increased from 37% to 40%. Unmarried couples who live together with one child have increased, as a proportion of all families, from 51% to 53%.

There’s no single reason for why British people are having less children, say the experts, but factors could include women having children later in life, financial issues and the necessity for the mother to carrying on working, and an increase in divorce rates.

But what effect does growing up without brothers or sisters have on the child? “Research in China [where parents are restricted to one child only] has shown that most children from single-child families do exceedingly well,” says Professor Ann Buchanan, an expert in social work at Oxford University. “However, the pressure on lone children is greater.”

How many children do you have? We’d love to know in the comments below.

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