Trends in Family and Household Diversity in the UK

The diversity of families and households in the UK has been slowly increasing since 2012. Types of families on the rise include cohabiting households, reconstituted families, single-parent families, and ‘kidult’ households where adults live with their parents. There’s been a slight decrease in traditional ‘cereal packet’ families. Multigenerational households, however, saw a minor decrease, making up only 1% of households in 2022. Single-person households and lone-parent families also increased marginally yet represent significant proportions of UK households.

Families and households in the UK have become more diverse since 2012, although the rate of change is relatively slow paced. The types of family and households which have increased since the 1950s include:

  • cohabiting rather than married households
  • reconstituted or step families
  • lone parent families
  • single person households
  • Kidult households, where adult children live with their parents.

The statistics below focus more on the trends in the last decade.

A slight decrease in ‘cereal packet’ families

  • The proportion of opposite-sex non-married cohabiting family households increased in the last decades, from 15.7% of all family households in the UK to 18.4% of all households in the UK.
  • There was a corresponding decrease in opposite-sex married family households: from 67% of all households to 65.2% of all households (2).
bar chart showing slight decrease in married family households
The proportion of ‘cereal packet families’ is slowly declining.
  • An important analysis point here is that the rate of decline is not particularly fast or significant.
  • Opposite-sex married and cohabitating families together make up 81% of all family households.
  • In other words around 80% of households with children are still heterosexual two parent households!

Trends in Reconstituted Families

  • In 2011 there were 544,000 step families with dependent children in England and Wales.
  • This means that 11% of couple families with dependent children were step families.
  • The Number of step families has increased since the 1950s.
  • However, the number of step families has declined recently dropping from 631,000 in 2001 to just 544,000 in 2011.
  • If there is only one biological parent in the step-family, that parent is the mother rather than the father in 90% of cases.
  • NB it is more difficult to get up to date stats on step-families! However according to this Guardian article from 2021 an estimated 1 in 3 families are blended families. NB this is probably including families with non dependent children.

Trends in Lone Parent Households

  • There were 2.9 million lone-parent families in the UK in 2022, which is 15% of all families.
  • This is down slightly from 2012 when there were 3.0 million lone-parent families, representing 17% of all families
  • 84% of lone-parent families were lone-mother families in 2022.
  • See source (2) below.

Separated Families

  • A separated family is defined as ‘one parent with care of a child 16 or under, or child aged under 20 if they are in full time Further Education, and with a non-resident parent’.
  • In 2020 there were an estimated 2.3 million separated families in Britain, with an estimated 3.6 million children.
  • 89% of parents with care in 2020 were female and under the age 50, and 86% of the non-resident parents male and 80% were under 50.
  • Methodological note: Lone parent and separated families are not quite. the same thing!

Trends in Single Person Households

  • 29.6% of all households in the UK were single person households in 2022.
  • This is equivalent to 8.3 million people or 13% of people who live in households.
  • This is up slightly from 2012 when 29% of all households were single person households.
  • According to Euromonitor International, the number of people living alone globally is skyrocketing, rising from about 153 million in 1996 to 277 million in 2011 – an increase of around 80% in 15 years.

Trends in ‘Kidult’ Households

The number of adults living with their parents rose by over 14% between 2011 and 2021 to 4.9 million adults.

Young adult males are more likely to live with their parents than young adult females.

In 2022 31% of males aged 20-34 lived with their parents compared to only 22% of females aged 20 to 34. (Source).

bar chart showing number of adults living with their parents UK

Overall, around 1/3 of adult men and 1/5th of adult women in the UK now live with their parents.

Trends in Multigenerational Households

  • Only 1% of households were multigenerational in the UK in 2022.
  • This is down slightly from 2012 when the figure was 1.1%.
Signposting and related posts

You can find a fuller range of stats in this post: Families in the UK: Interesting Statistics!

The next logical post after this one is:Explaining the increase in family diversity – part 1 of 3

For more posts on this topic area more generally please see my page on families and households, one of the options within the first year of A-level sociology (AAQA).


(1) Gov.UK (accessed June 2023) Separated Families Statistics April 2014 to March 2020.

(2) ONS: Families and Households in the UK 2022 (accessed June 2023)