Dads take on childcare duties in one in seven UK households

Article date: 25 October 2011

Dads are the main childcare provider in one in seven (14%) UK households with dependent children, according to new research from life insurer Aviva. The study suggests at least 1.4 million* men in the UK, now take on the role of the "primary parent".

A further 25% of families with children under 18 say the childcare is shared equally between both parents. This is up from 18% in 2010 when a similar study by Aviva revealed that stay-at-home dads had risen 10-fold in the last 10 years.

The survey also showed that more than a quarter of dads (26%) either gave up work or reduced their working hours after the birth of their children, and 44% regularly look after their children while their partner works.

And while many dads seem to relish the time they spend with their children - 43% feel lucky to have this opportunity - financial factors also play their part. When determining who would look after the children, 46% of families said their decision was so the main income earner could keep working.

This is borne out by the growing trend of breadwinner mums. A quarter of women surveyed (25%) said they earn more than their partner, while a further 16% said they earn roughly the same as their partner. Alongside this, over the past four decades, the number of women in employment has increased from 56% in 1971 to 70% in 2008, while for men, employment fell from 92% to 78% over the same period.**

While most role reversal couples seem happy with their alternative arrangements, a small number of hands-on dads admit to a few minor niggles:

  • Nearly one in five (17%) admit it makes them feel "less of a man" to be the childcare provider.
  • 13% report they find looking after the children harder than going out to work.
  • 13% say they wish they earn more than their partner so they could go out to work.
  • A small number (5%) report that their parenting / working arrangements have caused arguments with their partners.

Louise Colley, head of protection marketing for Aviva says: “It’s really interesting to see how the responsibilities of parents are shifting. There’s no longer a ‘norm’ for who does what in a family relationship, and it’s great that many mums and dads are enjoying non-traditional roles. We know from our latest Family Finances report that the cost of childcare means many families feel it’s not worthwhile both parents working - so it’s no surprise to see more men taking up the reins.

“However, this also means that many families are relying on one salary which can leave them financially vulnerable. We’d encourage every family to consider the ‘what ifs’ to make sure they’re financially protected, just in case the unexpected should happen.”

Aviva offers £10,000 worth of free life cover to new parents, per parent, per child up to their first birthday. Parents must register within the first six months of their children’s birth. To find out more about the Aviva life cover for new parents initiative and to register, visit www.aviva.co.uk/life or call 0800 404 6465.

-ends-

The research was conducted by OnePoll for Aviva out in September / October 2011, interviewing 2,000 people with children under 18.

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Sarah Poulter : Aviva Press Office 
Telephone: 01904 452828 / 07800 691569 
E-mail: sarah.poulter@aviva.co.uk

Notes to editors:

* ONS data shows that in 2010 there were 10.2 million married or cohabiting couples of different genders with dependent children. 14% of this figure equates to 1,428,000 fathers who are the primary childcare provider.

** Source: FemaleBreadWinners.com

About Aviva:

Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group.  We provide 44.5 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.                           

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3m into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at www.aviva.com/2010cr.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school.

The Aviva media centre at www.aviva.com/media includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit www.aviva.com/media/video/.

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.

** at 31 December 2010.

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