Babies and breadwinners: How parents of 'Generation Z' are changing the shape of work

Article date: 16 July 2014

  • Number of stay-at-home mums has halved since 1960s / 1970s
  • More families share the childcare equally
  • Families move from mortgages to rentals

The last fifty years have seen a seismic shift in the way that UK families are raising children, Aviva’s latest Family Finance Report reveals today.

Data from the report shows that the percentage of stay-at-home mums has almost halved since the 1960s and ‘70s, while more families are creating their own bespoke parenting and childcare styles, using a mixture of grandparents, nurseries and part-time work.

The respondents to Aviva’s survey include the parents of the so-called Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), Generation Y (born between 1981 and 2000) and the most recent Generation Z (who have birthdates from 2001 to 2014). By analysing their responses, it is possible to map the shift in parenting over the last fifty years.

Shift in family dynamics

The percentage of families with a mum who is a full-time homemaker has almost halved between Generation X and Generation Z, from 62% to 34%. Over the same period, the percentage of families who rely on two full-time incomes has doubled from 11% to 22%.

Breadwinning is shared more equally

Female breadwinners are on the increase in many UK families. The number of families where both parents are equal earners is also increasing.

Parents of generation X/Y/Z

Women are main breadwinners

Both parents are equal earners

X (children born 1965 - 1980)



Y (children born 1981 – 2000)



Z (children born 2001 – 2014)



Childcare use is growing

Over the last five years childcare costs have risen by 27%, meaning that parents pay £1,214 more in 2014 than they did in 2009*. Despite these increases, the percentage of families that use no childcare at all has fallen dramatically.

While 60% of Generation X parents did not need to use childcare for their children, just 33% of Generation Z said the same. A quarter of Generation Z parents use nursery-based childcare, compared with 10% of Generation X parents.

Unpaid childcare, generally from grandparents, has risen as well. Nearly a third (29%) of Generation Z parents rely on grandparental childcare, compared with 22% of Generation X parents. In 2011 Aviva research suggested UK grandparents were providing £33 billion of free childcare each year.

However, the tradition of using grandparents as a source of free or cheap childcare may be under threat, given the rising retirement age. Recent ONS statistics show that one in 10 people aged over 65 has a job, up from one in 20 in 1993. The state pension age is due to rise to 67 in 2028 meaning that fewer grandparents may have the leisure time to help their children care for their families.

Families share the childcare load

Although 70% of mothers still take on the main task of looking after the children, this has dropped from 83% (Generation X), while over a quarter of families have parents who share the childcare equally. Only 15% of Generation X parents did the same.

More families live in rented homes

As house prices have increased and it has become harder to get a mortgage, the percentage of families in rented accommodation has also grown. After dipping to 10% for Generation Y parents, it has risen sharply to 18%.


Percentage in rented accommodation







Positive developments

Aviva’s report reveals that most families believe that recent changes to working patterns, legally enshrined parental leave and the ability to work flexibly are broadly positive things. Six out of 10 parents across all generations feel that today’s parents are lucky to be able to combine their family life with working, despite the cost of childcare and other pressures this can bring.

More than three quarters (77%) of parents feel that fathers are more hands-on with their children than they were in previous generations, while 80% feel that today’s fathers are lucky to have more opportunities to spend time with their children.

Louise Colley, protection director for Aviva says: “Family life has changed massively in the last fifty years, with many fathers taking a more hands-on role in the home, while mothers go out to work. In many ways, this has had very positive repercussions, with families enjoying an increased living standard thanks to dual incomes, and parents enjoying a shared approach to childcare.

“However, parents should be vigilant to ensure that their finances adapt to changing family circumstances. Whether this means ensuring that the financial contribution of both earners is protected against illness or unemployment, or putting strategies in place to deal with rising childcare costs, the dual-income family has its own financial pressures that must be considered.”

Download the Family Finances Report (0.76KB)
Watch the animation

*Source: Family and Childcare Trust.

** Data provided by the Office of National Statistics, and the Human Fertility and Embryology Association.

- Ends -

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

Sarah Poulter : Aviva Press Office : 01904 452828 : 07800 691569 :

Notes to editors:

Further statistics about children born to generations X, Y and Z:**


Generation X parents

(children born 1965 – 1980).

Generation Y parents

(children born 1981 – 2000).

Generation Z parents (children born 2001 –2014).

Average age of mother

1974 : (England and Wales): 26.4 years

1994: 28.1 years

2012 (latest available) 29.8 years.

Average house price

Example 1974:


Example 1994:


Example 2014: £253,000 (Feb 2014 - ONS)


Average weekly earnings (full time worker)

Example 1974:

Male: £47.70
Female: £26.90


Example 1994:

Male: £362.10
Female: £261.50

Example 2014 (end 2013 – latest data available ONS)

Male: £556
Female: £459

Popular baby names

Example: 1974:



Example: 1994:



Example 2014:



Proportion of births outside marriage

1974: 9% of births outside of marriage.

1994: 32% of births outside of marriage.

2012 (latest available data): Percentage of births occurring outside marriage or civil partnership = 47%

Babies born to mothers over 40

1974: 8,044 babies born to women over 40 (1.3% of births).

1994: 10,729 babies born to women over 40 (1.6% of births).

By 2012 (latest data available): 28,274 babies born to women over 40 (3.8% of births).

IVF assisted births


Example: Treatment started in 1992 – 3,113 babies born

Example: Treatment started in 2006 – 12,589 babies born

The Aviva Family Finances report is an in-depth study into the financial needs of the 84% of the UK population who live as part of a modern family. Based on customer profiles and Government data Aviva has recognised the six most common types of modern family as:

  • 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 child
  • Single parent raising one or more child alone


Data was sourced from the Aviva Family Index which used findings from over 22,000 people who are members of one of the six groups of families identified above via Canadean research. This report is a definitive look at the personal finances of families in the UK. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also tracks how these change across the different types of family unit.

In addition to the regular data, in each edition a spotlight is shone onto a different relevant topic. This issue has a focus on the lifestyles and working habits of UK families across different generations over the last 50 years. This ‘spotlight’ section uses data compiled from interviews of parents who had their first child between 1965 and 2014, comparing attitudes of 1,103 parents of Generation X (born 1965-1980); Generation Y (born 1981-2000) and Generation Z (2001-2014).

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