The CSJ was one of the first think tanks to set out the extent of family breakdown and its impact on poverty.
When we first published ‘Breakdown Britain’ in 2006 we discovered a country where family breakdown was widespread in our poorest areas, and the UK continues to have some of the highest levels of family breakdown anywhere in the world. If you’re a poor child in the UK today, you’re overwhelmingly more likely to see your parents separate and your family break apart than the middle-class child down the road. By the age of five almost half of children in our poorest areas have seen their families break apart compared to only 16 per cent of children in middle-class homes. Your chances of experiencing family breakdown shouldn’t be defined by birth or circumstance, but too often they are.
Research conducted by the Early Intervention Foundation found that parental relationships are the primary influence on outcomes for young children. As a pathway to poverty, a family that breaks apart doubles the likelihood of a child growing up poor. This is why, for 15 years, the CSJ has presented evidence that family breakdown should be an important part of any approach to tackling poverty and disadvantage.
We have continued to look carefully at how family breakdown entrenches poverty and limits the life chances of children growing up in our poorest communities. Research conducted by the CSJ with Savanta ComRes has found that the experience of family breakdown more than doubles the chances of being homeless (2.3 times), doubles the likelihood of being in trouble with the police or spending time in prison (2.0 times), and almost double the probability of educational underachievement (1.9 times).