Nationwide surveyed 2,000 UK families in 2017 to identify what a typical British family looks like today. According to its report, the average family consists of 2.1 children and has one pet, with an average salary of £29,688. However, the definition of a family is always changing as our lifestyles and society evolve. Some of the factors that contribute to these changes include health, entertainment and living spaces. As a result, a ‘typical’ family can look very different across different eras.
We know from the past that what a ‘normal’ family might look like can vary a lot between centuries or even decades, which is why we wanted to examine the idea of whether families in 2050 will look very different from the families of today. We explored some of our research findings with futurologist Dr Ian Pearson.
It is expected that technology will see further rapid developments that take the ease of communication to new heights. Family members who live far away will have the option to be more involved in their lives back home. According to Dr Ian Pearson, instead of having to spend time and money on travel, the development of artificial reality will allow people to mimic realistic ‘physical’ interaction with each other while they are in fact far away. This will bring family members closer, especially over festive seasons like Christmas.
Technological and financial developments have made it easier for many people to migrate to different countries. Back in 2001, just over 1% of the UK population (672,000 people) identified themselves as mixed or were characterised as such by their parents. The mixed-race population saw an increase of 50% by 2009, reaching 986,000. As such, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has made a probabilistic projection suggesting that people of mixed origins could account for 8% of the British population by 2050. It would mean that multi-racial families will become more and more common.
Medical advancements will continue at pace. With better access to healthcare, stable food sources and eradication of certain deadly diseases, we are able to live longer than our predecessors. According to United Nations research, life expectancy reached 72.6 years in 2019 and is projected to reach 77.1 years by 2050. While an average family today usually consists of three generations, by 2050, longer life expectancy could mean that there will be more four-generation families.
The birth rate reached its lowest level in 2018 since records began in 1938, states the Office for National Statistics. These projections indicate that by 2050, there will be more than twice as many people above 65 as children under five. Common reasons for the birth rate to drop continuously include greater participation in higher education, delaying marriage and/or partnership formation, and wanting to have a longer working career before starting a family. If this trend continues, we can expect families in 2050 to have more grandparents than children in an average household.
Social and economic factors such as decisions about marriage, divorce, further education, work, values and more all play a part in impacting how a typical family structure might look in 30 years. While some of these observations were made based on previous years or decades and are subject to change, it is still interesting to explore how our families might be different by 2050. Let us know whether anything about this differs from your family and what you think about the projections by tagging us on Facebook or on Twitter @ViessmannUK.