One-parent families above EU average
Published 28/10/2011 | 05:00
IRISH families are less traditional than the rest of Europe with more children here living with just one parent and fewer in married households.
Surprising new figures from Eurostat show nearly a quarter of Irish children live in one-parent homes (23.2pc), much higher than the European average of 13.6pc.
Children here are up to three times as likely to live in single-parent homes as children in other traditionally Catholic countries such as Spain (7pc) and Italy (11pc).
Only Latvia has a marginally higher rate of single-parent households.
Two-thirds of Irish children live in traditional married households, which is also well below the European average of 74pc and the 90pc levels seen in Greece and Cyprus.
Unmarried cohabiting parents are less common in Ireland, however, with only 7.4pc of children living in this setup compared to 11.5pc across the EU.
Some 1.6pc of children under 18 did not live with their parents, which was slightly higher than the EU norm.
Politicians should heed the figures as they showed the number of children being raised by both their mother and father had fallen to a "worryingly low level", warned David Quinn, director of the pro-marriage Iona Institute.
"The Government claims to be pro-child and is planning a children's rights referendum. But the best way to be pro-child is to be pro-marriage. The Government must start promoting marriage," he said.
One Family -- which represents single parents -- said the figures were very surprising.
However, they disagreed that the Government should start promoting marriage, saying it was more important to promote good parenting.
It is not known why the number of one-parent families is so high in Ireland -- but lone parent group OPEN disputed the figures.
They said they believed the latest census would show the cohabiting rate in Ireland was higher and the number of single-parent families was lower than Eurostat said.
The Eurostat report -- which calculated the figures on the basis of figures supplied to it by the Central Statistics Office of each country -- shows Irish people are less likely to live alone than most Europeans.
Only 22pc of us live alone, compared to 31pc across the EU.