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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 06:37 GMT 07:37 UK
Single parent families 'increasing'
Toddler in childcare
Report says single parent families have risen by 18% in a decade
Northern Ireland has the fastest growing number of single parent families in the UK, according to a report.

The findings were contained in a social trends survey of life in the province published on Thursday.

The number of single parent households has increased by 18% in the last 10 years, accounting for almost 13% of all households.

Information firm Experian compiled the report using data from the 2001 census and other sources.

The study also cited the emergence of what it called "student enclaves" in south Belfast and Coleraine, as more young people were studying at the universities there.

It said "thriving micro-economies" were operating for students, typically amid concentrations of privately rented terraced accommodation.

It also highlighted a population shift out of central Belfast to suburbs and surrounding towns.

Bangor, County Down and Newtownabbey, County Antrim, were picked out as satellite towns serving an increasingly affluent commuter population.

Decline

The study also found a strong east-west divide, with towns west of the River Bann suffering most from a decline in traditional industries.

"This has left a hard core of genuinely poor and breadline pensioners, welfare dependent single parent families and anti-social problems associated with drugs and crime," it said.

Towns east of the Bann - which roughly divides the province in two - had retained a larger share of population and wealth.

Each household was classified into one of 36 types in the survey, with names such as Cultural Avant Garde, Community Stalwarts, Cycles of Poverty, Breadline Pensioners, Proud Traditions and Rural Entrepreneurs.

It was compiled using a Mosaic classification system, which Experian said was "an excellent predictor of many economic variables such as incomes, spending characteristics and household demand".

The system operates at a household rather than postcode level.

Rob Haslingden of Experian said the survey's findings "will prove invaluable to social commentators, planners, investors, commercial and retail developers and many other organisations in the public and private sector".




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