NOTHING short of a revolution has swept through the institutions of marriage and family in the last 30 years, says the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Alan Hayes.
The most striking change is the surge in babies born out of wedlock. More than a third of babies born in 2008 were to unmarried mothers, up from 8.3 per cent in 1970.
[...] The big rise in ex-nuptial births is to cohabiting couples, he says, with the proportion born to single women on their own having remained stable since the early 1990s.
[...] Professor Hayes will report today on the modern family at the annual conference of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which has charted the dramatic changes since it opened 30 years ago.
[...] Rebecca Huntley, director of Ipsos Mackay Research, said for many members of generation Y, the sign of commitment was the decision to have children and to buy a house together. But later when they could afford it, the couple splashed out on a big, ostentatious wedding.
"They see the wedding as a party with 150 friends," she said. "For their parents' generation a wedding was the licence to buy a house and have the children."
Another sign of the revolution is the proportion of couples who have lived together before marrying each other, which reached 78 per cent in 2008 compared to 23 per cent in 1980. As well, both parents are much more likely to be in work, with 63 per cent of mothers of dependent children in jobs.