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Work Life balance
Love is a dying tradition: work is eliminating families
Mon, 13 Feb 2012 14:14
Don’t cry if you’re no-one’s Valentine, love is a dying tradition as marriages and family life disappear according to a rush of new studies released this month.
The Brookings Institute in the United States reported on February 3 that, “Fewer Americans are married today than at any point in at least 50 years.” This correlates with data in the same report that says while half of women didn’t work 40 years ago, it is rare for women not to work now and they’re waiting longer to have children, if at all. Today in the United States a third of first time mothers are older than forty and around 10 percent of men and women are choosing not to marry at all.
Vicky Eriksson of human resources training group The People Element said, “ours are the most job-focussed generations ever. We work longer hours – up to 500 hours more a year according to stats – and because we have become so consumed with accumulating degrees, status, and wealth, the other significant need for successful humans – good relationships fall by the wayside.
Yet, stats of the wealthiest one percent of Americans who earn 40 percent of that countries wealth, 48 percent are in stable, happy, long-term marriages. The very wealthiest have learned the secrets of successful relationships, the rest of us have not.” Figures for South Africa show rampant divorce, multiple marriages and a very high ratio of struggling single mothers.
The Organisation of Economic CoOperation and Development also released a report early in February saying that marriage in Western nations (including South Africa) is a dying trend. “Since the 1960s the family has undergone significant transformation. In many countries, the extended family has all but disappeared, and the traditional two-parent family has become much less widespread as divorce rates, re-marriages, cohabitation, single parenthood and same-sex partnerships have all increased.
“Families have seen more mothers take up work in the labour market, their adolescents spend longer and longer in education and training, and the elderly members of the family live longer and, increasingly, alone.”
Vicky Eriksson and Karin Wellman of The People Element said they were increasingly noting people in workshops who had chosen to give up relationships to devote time to their career. Eriksson said, “women especially tend to choose to focus on their career in their early years and then consider a relationship in their late thirties or early forties when they are at the top of their careers. But a relationship requires compromise and some struggle to do that after achieving success in the workplace, this can lead to personal stress and sadness later on.”
Wellman and Eriksson said they were so concerned by the high levels of stress in the workplace that they were organizing a conference on (is the title still the same?) to be held (where) on (date). “It will be a one day bootcamp to look at ways to help individuals and workforces to transform and cope with stress in ways that don’t disable their work performance or their family or personal life.”
Wellman pointed out that OECD figures on the breakup of relationships especially families were now imposing significant costs on economies, “In Britain that figure is now £42bn per year and rising, according to the Relationships Foundation. Family breakdown costs more than the entire defence budget in that country. In Britain and here most of the cost to the economy comes from benefits and tax credits that support single parents and their children. Today in Britain there are two million single parent families: there were one million in 1980. In South Africa most children are now being raised in single parent families.”
Recent demographic projections performed by OECD countries suggest that the next 20 years are likely to see a continuation and even acceleration of changes in household and family structures. In particular, the numbers and shares of single-adult and single-parent households are expected to increase significantly, as is the number of couples without children.
In Britain today, 40 percent of all children can expect to see their parents split up before their 16th birthday. At least half of family breakdown takes place within the first three years of childhood. (However, the latest study from the Centre for Social Justice and the Bristol Community Family Trust estimates that, of children born today, no less than 48% will see their parents split by their 16th birthday. OECD research has shown that, of all countries (not just the 30 member countries), the UK has the fifth highest lone parent rate, after Latvia, Estonia, the Czech republic and the US.
Globally divorce rates have gone up about six fold since 1960.
It is estimated that in most developed nations including South Africa up to 15 percent of babies are born without a resident biological father.
Eriksson said, “It’s worth reflecting on these sobering statistics this Valentine’s day, we talk a lot about love, but today we say those words and forget it’s ancillary: commitment, which in turn is part of responsibility. We are good about our responsibilities in the workplace, but have forgotten responsibility for our personal happiness and for those closest to us. Maybe now is the time for a values check.”
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