Perspective: Lies, Damned Lies and, of Course, Statistics; A New Study Has Apparently Revealed That the Children of Unmarried Parents Are 'Disadvantaged'. Louise Palfreyman Cannot Contain Her Anger
Byline: Louise Palfreyman
The Office for National Statistics Populations Trends Journal (I'm yawning already) has yielded the following information: Married parents are better off. Married mothers are better educated. Children of parents who live together are not as well off as those with married parents.
Children of single parents are the least advantaged of all.
I hate studies, surveys and anything else that purports to tell me things I don't feel the need to know or know not to be true.
Or, to be more precise, I hate the way the findings of these reports are twisted to suit the views of the narrow-minded.
And no, it's not just because I'm an umarried mother.
There's something deeply pernicious about the way pundits, commentators and 'experts' will fall on the latest figures like a pack of ravenous hyenas.
The problem is that too much generalisation only serves to breed prejudice.
And some people are only out to serve their own ends by distorting statistics to prove their empty-headed arguments.
I remember the twist inside when, as a new mum, I'd read the latest findings on how going out to work damages your child.
'Children of working mothers more likely to fail at school', 'Children of working mothers psychologically scarred', 'Children of working mothers grow two heads'.
That sort of thing.
So I stopped reading them. I can't say I even care about such reports any more.
But there are people who do care, and who feel hurt when they read that in the eyes of society they are failing.
The figures contained within the population trends journal (which contains information on 18,500 babies born in 2000-2001) cannot, on the face of it, be argued with.
Backed by John Haskey of the Office for National Statistics, and analysed by the eminent Professor Kathleen Kiernan of the LSE, they reveal a society where married parents are indeed better off.
Financially, that is. Only 7.8 per cent of married parents in the study were classed as being on low incomes, but 21 per cent of cohabiting parents fell into this bracket.
And a whopping 75 per cent of 'non-partnered' parents (what a horrible, statistical phrase) were found to be struggling to make ends meet. Nearly the same amount are on income support.
You can't argue with that, can you?
Well yes, actually, you can.
Naturally, the staunch traditionalists among us have leapt with glee on these findings.
'We told you marriage was best!' I can almost hear them bray.
'Living in sin will get you nowhere!' 'Down with single mothers!'
I really wish these people would just return to sticking their heads back where at least their idiotic utterances can't be heard.
Perhaps the conclusions to be drawn from this study should be wider ranging than just having another pop at those pariahs of middle English society, the umarried or single parent.
The Office for National Statistics is just that -an organ that spews out data to be interpreted by the population at large. …