Non-institutionalised family forms have become more widespread. Marriage rates have been falling, age at marriage and childbearing is being postponed, and family and household size has been declining. Divorce rates have been increasing, and unmarried cohabitation has become a widespread living arrangement in some parts of the Union. This chapter analyses the process of family change and its consequences. It defines and conceptualises families from a demographic and international perspective in EU25 member states. The chapter explores the policy debates and challenges socio-demographic change has created for society. It examines the challenges posed by changing patterns of family formation and structure, and reviews the ways in which different societies are reacting to them, as reported in national literature, academic, political, and popular debate.
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