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Families with three or more children fall

An extended familyOne in seven families in the UK have three or more dependent children. We take a closer look at modern families - and their finances.

Nearly half of all families - 47 per cent - now have one dependent child.

This is 5 per cent higher than in 1996, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

By contrast, families with three or more children have fallen from 17 per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2012.

But government figures also show that the UK has a higher percentage of households with three or more children than three-quarters of European Union countries.

Of the 7.7 million families with dependent children in the UK in 2012, 1.1 million - one in seven -  have three or more children.

Where bigger families live

According to the ONS, a higher proportion of families with three or more children can be found in London.

Bigger families also dominate in parts of the West Midlands, including Birmingham, and the north of England, including Bradford.

The local authorities with the lowest percentages of families with three or more children are north Tyneside, south Tyneside and County Durham.

Six types of modern family

The Family Finances Report 2012 by life insurance provider Aviva identified six types of modern family in the UK today.

The report states: "Thirty years ago, the typical UK family was referred to as the 'nuclear family' and consisted of two parents and one or more children.

"However, as society has changed over time this is no longer the case.

"In this report, Aviva seeks to recognise the most common types of modern family based on customer profiles and government data."

The six types of modern family identified by Aviva are:

  • Living in a committed relationship with no plans to have children
  • Living in a committed relationship with plans to have children
  • Living in a committed relationship with one child 
  • Living in a committed relationship with two or more children
  • Divorced/separated/widowed with one or more children
  • Single parent raising one or more children alone

Click the link to view our six types of modern family and their finances infographic.

Working parents

Families with one or two dependent children are more likely to have at least one employed parent than those with three or more offspring living at home.

ONS data shows that in 2012, 95 per cent of couple families with one or two dependent children had one or both parents working.

This falls to 87 per cent in couple families with three or more dependent children.

It's a similar case with single-parent families. 

Some 62 per cent of lone parents with one or two dependent children are in work, compared with 38 per cent of lone parents with three or more children.

This illustrates the greater challenge of combining work with childcare for parents who have three or children compared with one or two.

Family finances and life insurance

So why all this talk of families? Well, one of the biggest triggers for buying life insurance is starting a family.

Many people take out life insurance out to cover a mortgage.

But as your family grows you may also like the policy to provide an annual income, as well as a lump sum to clear the mortgage, in the event of your or your partner's death.

A family protection policy is a form of life insurance that pays an income to your dependents if the worst should happen.

Life insurance policy in trust

Also, consider setting up your life insurance policy in trust to ensure it pays out quickly and potentially lessen the tax bill for your family, should the worst happen.

Matthew Lloyd is head of life insurance at

He says: "If your life policy is in trust make sure your nominated trustees and beneficiaries are up to date to ensure any payout goes to the right family members or friends.

"Similarly, if you have a joint life policy with your partner, inform your insurer if you split up and consider taking out a single policy, otherwise your ex could receive the payout, which may not be what you wanted.”

Stay-at-home parent? Don't underestimate your value 

A stay-at-home parent contributes work worth more than £30,000 a year to the family.

Of this, an average of £8,580 a year is spent on raising a child, according to life insurance firm Legal & General.
The company says that these figures should be taken into account as well as the main earner's salary when buying life insurance. 

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Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick covers all things consumer for She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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