Nuclear Family Now Near Extinction
By Tom Gordon The Herald -
London 11-26-1

The days of the nuclear family are all but over with just one quarter of people thinking married couples make better parents than unmarried ones.
In addition, according to the latest survey of social attitudes in the UK, only half the public now think couples need to wed if they want to start a family, compared to 70% in 1989.
Among 18 to 24-year-olds, the figures are even lower, with barely one third of young people believing marriage should precede parenthood.
The findings are published today in the eighteenth annual survey of British social attitudes from the National Centre for Social Research, Britain's largest social research institute.
The survey of more than 3000 people also found widespread concern over Britain's record numbers of teenage mothers, a growing distrust of politicians, fear of genetically modified foods, and massive opposition to genetic testing by insurance companies.
Internet users, far from being stereotyped geeky loners, also emerge as more affluent, sociable and community-minded than average.
Marriage, while still highly regarded as an ideal, is increasingly being superseded by cohabitation.
Two-thirds of people think it is a acceptable for a couple to live together without being married, even if marriage is not the ultimate goal, although there is confusion about the law.
More than half falsely believe "common law marriage" gives cohabiting couples the same rights as married ones, even though it was abolished in 1753.
The most likely age group to cohabit are 25 to 34-year-olds (22% do it), and among past cohabitants 59% went on to marry their partner.
Researcher Alison Park said: "Cohabitation is widely accepted as a prelude to marriage and as an alternative, even where there are children involved. There's a clear suggestion that values will continue to shift in a more liberal direction."
With the UK burdened by the highest rates of births to teenage mothers in Western Europe, 62% think television and advertising put teenagers under "too much pressure to have sex before they are ready".
In politics, Labour's welfare reforms - with the exception of last year's 75p increase in pensions - are proving broadly popular, as is the Conservatives' sceptical stand on greater European integration.
After all parties focused on benefit fraud, 77% of people now think large numbers of their peers are making false benefit claims.
Never bountiful, public trust in politicians continues to fall, with just 16% confident a British government would put country above party, down from 39% in 1974.
Devolution, touted as an antidote to voter apathy, has so far failed to overcome this mistrust, but nor has it created division across Britain.
The West Lothian question no longer appears to trouble the public either. Both in Scotland and England (53% and 64%), most people believe Scottish MPS should not be allowed to vote on matters relating only to England.
The social survey also discovered internet users were more clubbable than those left off-line. Around 30% belonged to a community group compared with less than a quarter of non-users.
On health, while gene therapy is endorsed by the vast majority for treating heart disease and cancer, almost four in five oppose insurance companies using genetic tests to decide who to insure.
Rev Jim Cowie, convener of the Church of Scotland's board of social responsibility, said: "The popular view is that marriage does not make much difference, but other surveys show it does, both to the quality of life for couples and the well-being and success of children."
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said recent figures showed marriages rising and divorce rates falling north of the border.


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