(click on the table for a larger image)
This is a cracking table. It is well worth taking some time to study and see what it is telling us about the changing life experiences of women in Britain.
It summarizes a survey taken in 2001-3. Women of different ages are asked what life events they have experienced by the time they are 25. The table summarizes the results for four key events: a) birth, b) marriage, c) cohabitation and d) divorce.
Take a look at the differences between women aged 50-55 and those 25-29. For the older group, three quarters were married and half had given birth. For the younger group, only a quarter were married and just under a third had given child birth. One obvious implication is that a large number of the younger group had given birth outside marriage since more women had children than were married. The opposite is true for the older group.
Only one percent of women 50-55 had cohabited by the time they were 25. While for the younger group, one in five had spent some time shacking up with a man.
As for divorce, the older age group were significantly less likely to separate compared to their younger sisters. However, the peak is for the 40-44 group. With this group, the likelihood of being married is high, but so are the opportunities for divorce.
Marriage, divorce, child-birth and cohabitation - across the generations the changes have been massive.