More than 450,000 children being raised outside of marriage
THE number of children being raised outside marriage has doubled to more than 450,000 in the space of 25 years.
And there has been a six-fold increase in the number of people who are divorced or separated since 1986, a report by the pro-marriage Iona Institute has found.
It warned that the scale and pace of family change in Ireland was a concern, particularly for children growing up with absent fathers.
The report 'Marriage Breakdown and Family Structure in Ireland' compared census data between 1986 and 2011.
It found there had been a large increase in broken marriages, with the 40,347 separated adults in 1986 soaring to nearly a 250,000 separated and divorced people by 2011.
Marital breakdown is particularly high in Limerick city, Dublin and Waterford, where one in five marriages fails, whereas in counties Galway and Limerick fewer than one in eight marriages break down.
And while there were 205,000 children being raised outside marriage in 1986, that had soared to 456,661 by 2011. That figure includes some adult children still living at home.
Professor Patricia Casey, who is a patron of the Iona Institute, said it was of particular concern that more than 300,000 children under the age of 18 were being raised outside marriage, many by lone mothers.
"The debate about the changing Irish family is a debate about how highly we value fatherhood and how we can connect more fathers to their children," she said.
The report shows that well over a quarter of all children are now being raised outside marriage, whereas back in 1986 it was only one in eight.
The report shows that the number of single-parent families doubled to over 215,000 in the period studied.
While cohabitation was rare and not even recorded in 1986, it soared from 31,296 couples living together in 1996 to 143,500 in 2011.
Stuart Duffin, director of policy at One Family, which represents lone-parent families, said it was vital that the State recognised and supported the needs of diverse family types instead of discriminating in favour of traditional ones.