Insee study : evolution of couples and families

On December 16, 2015, the INSEE rendered public several studies which analyzed 2011 data on the evolution of couples and families in France and in Europe.

In France, among the 47.8 million individuals of majority age, 66.4% form couples. Living as a married couple remains the most wide-spread conjugal relation (73% out of 31.7 million couples) whereas 23% are in common-law unions and 4% are PACSed couples (civil partnerships).

Furthermore, among the 7.8 million families counting 13.7 million minor children, the model of children who live with both parents remains largely dominant: these so-called “traditional” families, composed of an adult couple living under the same roof with one or more children born from their union, represent 70% of families (therefore more than one family out of two where the parents are married).

Recomposed families remain relatively stable, passing from 8.7% in 1999 to 9.3% in 2011. The situation of “single-parent” families has however increased, passing from 16% to 20% during the same period. The main cause is not widowhood, as in the past, but the break-up of relationships (for 75% of them). In these cases, the children’s primary residence is with the mother, even if alternative custody has increased.

The study specifies « Each year, the number of separations for couples living together is higher. In the years from 1993-1996, an average of 155,000 couples separated every year, with at least one partner being aged between 25 to 45 years old at the moment of the break-up, and for half of them (75,000) under-age children were involved. Fifteen years later, in the years 2009-2012, the number of separations is 253,000 per year, of which 115,000 affect minors. The number of minor children implicated in these separations has increased, passing from 145,000 to 191,000 between the two periods studied. Following the separation of their parents, 75% live with their mother, 17% with shared custody, and 8% live with their father.”

Forty percent of so-called “single parent” families are under the poverty line. “The separation leads to a reduced standard of living of 3% on average for men and 20% for women.”

Compared to the rest of Europe, in France « large families (three or more children) are more widespread (19% of families with at least one child less than 25 years old, compared to an average 15% in Europe), analogous to all the Northern and North-Western countries except Germany. The rate is especially high in Ireland (29%)”.

A survey cited in the study on single parent families in Europe regarding the opinion about the families in different European countries show that more than 80% of the French think “a child needs a father and a mother to be happy”.

Namely: 4 misconceptions of French families, Le Monde December 16, 2015

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