Family breakdown -
stable, healthy families are at the heart of strong societies

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, 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 percent of children in middle class homes. Your chances of seeing your family break apart 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 (2.0 times) of being in trouble with the police or spending time in prison and almost twice as likely (1.9 times) to experience educational underachievement.

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