OnePlusOne Research and Policy Digest – October 2014
This month, OnePlusOne’s digest covers new statistics on long-term relationships and the use of counselling, plus the latest on relationship breakdowns and policy updates for mediation.
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Research and statistics
70% of the adult British population is in a relationship at the moment, of which 46% are married. A new YouGov study of how these relationships develop over time reveals that if you still get butterflies in your tummy from a relationship more than a few years old, you are incredibly lucky. Overall, only 11% of people who are in a relationship would describe themselves as head over heels in love, while 49% say they are still definitely in love. One in five (21%) say they love their partner but their days of being ‘in love’ are over, and 11% say that the relationship has gained a more practical quality, leaving love behind.
Research by the specialist Family and Divorce Law team at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, which has offices across the country found that while 37% of couples going through a rocky patch said they thought counselling would help, only 23% were actively seeking help. The survey of 2,000 people also revealed that on average couples sought counselling for four months with 12% saying it helped to save their marriage. However the stats also showed that gender played a part in the difference in attitudes to counselling with 45% of females believing that it would help save a relationship compared with just 28% of men.
How incomes, employment, housing, mental health and life satisfaction change following a partnership dissolution, using data from 18 waves of BHPS. The research confirms that women and children see living standards decline by more than men, on average, upon separation, but finds that the fall in living standards is much greater for those women and children formally in high-income households; it is also high for older women with non-dependent children. Research also finds that mental health and life satisfaction decline around separation, but both return quickly to pre-split levels at rates which are little related to post- split circumstances.
This paper focuses on the impact of early grandparents’ care on child cognitive outcomes, in the short and medium term, using data from the Millennium Cohort Study (UK). Compared with children looked after in a formal care centre, children cared by grandparents (as well as parents) are better in naming objects, but worse in tests concerning basic concepts development, problem-solving, mathematical concepts and constructing ability. These results hide strong heterogeneities: on the one hand, the positive association between family care and child outcomes is stronger for children in more advantaged households; on the other hand, the negative association is significant only for children in more disadvantaged households. In order to assess a causal link between early care and child outcomes, the researchers employ panel methods and instrumental variables techniques. The results obtained confirm the cross section results.
Policy and practice
The Relationships Manifesto: Strengthening Relationships
The Relationships Manifesto: Strengthening Relationships sets out the Relationships Alliance’s vision for how couple, family and social relationships in Britain can be strengthened and how relationship distress and breakdown can be reduced over the next Parliament. The document sets out the importance of relationships and relationship support as well as the barriers which prevent people accessing the latter. It sets out 12 policy ideas to overcome these barriers through promoting culture change, developing and extending access to relationship support and improving the impact of relationship support and raising awareness of its value.
After the major changes to the family court in April this year and the recent announcement in July of a free mediation session for separating couples, the government is announcing further initiatives to help people in the family and civil justice system. A new package of support has been developed aimed at keeping disputes away from court and providing better support for those who do end up in court.
Thousands of parents are turning away from the new government Child Maintenance Service because of new charges brought in this summer. The warning comes from single parent charity Gingerbread which says 3,700 fewer parents applied to the new service in August than in May, after a £20 application fee was introduced on 30 June.
The economy is beginning to recover, but for people on low incomes, the forecasts are heading in the wrong direction. Without concerted action, millions of people are going to find it harder to meet their basic needs and have already borne a sizeable burden of deficit reduction in this parliament.
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Chiung-Ya Tanga, Melissa Curranb & Analisa Arroyo, Marriage & Family Review
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Lydia F. Emery, Amy Muise, Emily L. Dix, Benjamin Le (2014), Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 40 (11), 1466-1479
Angela M. Neal, Edward P. Lemay Jr (2014), Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 31 (7), 938-957
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Lyndal Khaw, and Jennifer L. Hardesty (2014), Family Process, doi: 10.1111/famp.12104
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Tracy L. Dalgleish, Susan M. Johnson, Melissa Burgess Moser, Stephanie A. Wiebe, and Giorgio A. Tasca (2014), Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, doi: 10.1111/jmft.12101
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