The Nuclear Family's Fast Becoming a Social Freak; Research Paints Bleak Picture of a Nation of Single Adults Living Alone

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN BROCKLEBANK

THE nuclear family is in its death throes, according to new research.

In just over a decade, the number of Scottish households consisting of two adults and children will halve - while singleperson households will increase dramatically.

The Scottish Executive projection for 2014 paints a picture of a nation in which the traditional family is the exception rather than the rule.

Only 11 per cent of households will be occupied by families, while almost four in ten will consist of one adult living alone.

The findings were last night greeted with dismay by church leaders, who said they highlighted both the decline of two- parent families and the vast numbers of elderly people who will be left living on their own.

They also raise the possibility of serious housing shortages, more homelessness and spiralling property prices in some areas.

Many councils may need intensive house- building programmes to cope with the changing market.

The Household Projections for Scotland report predicts the total number of households will increase by 12 per cent, from 2.2million in 2000 to 2.46million in 2014.

West and East Lothian face the largest projected increases, of 24 and 22 per cent respectively.

Dundee City is the only area predicted to see a fall, of 5 per cent.

But this increase in the number of households will happen as the overall population falls slightly.

The next 12 years will see huge increases in all household types, except those consisting of two or more adults with at least one child.

Such homes currently account for one in five households in Scotland, but by 2014 that figure is expected to drop to one in ten.

There will be a 32 per cent increase in the number of properties housing one single adult, a 30 per cent increase in households containing one adult and one or more children, and a 15 per cent increase in households with two or more adults and no children.

The figures also show children will feature in a decreasing proportion of households. By 2014, less than one-fifth will be home to children.

Aberdeen will remain the singles capital of Scotland. Already 46 per cent of all households in the city are occupied by single adults. In 12 years this will have risen to 52 per cent.

Experts attribute the changes to several factors, including a higher divorce rate, the trend for marrying later and increased life expectancy among the elderly. …