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By Bradshaw, Skinners, Smitson

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First, current marital status—there were more single men and fewer married men in our sample than in the FWLS sample. This may be due to differences in definitions between the surveys—single in our survey is defined as having no partner in the household, whereas married are married and have a partner in the household. Second, the age of the youngest absent child—fewer 11–18 year olds in our sample. This is explainable by the difference in the age cut-off in the FWLS survey, which includes all children up to age 18, whereas we included children over 16 if they were in full-time education.

Though the non-resident children tend to be older, nonresident fathers themselves are younger than fathers in general. Only 5 per cent of the fathers in the sample were non-white and almost all of these were black. Although it is difficult to be certain from such a small subsample, it is probable from our results and studies of lone mothers, that non-resident fathers are more likely to be black Caribbean and less likely to be Asian than resident fathers. The subject of employment is dealt with in detail in Chapter 4, but it is clear from the comparisons in this table that non-resident fathers are less likely than resident fathers to be in social class 1 and more likely to be in social class 5.

The social class classification of the fathers of these non-resident fathers indicates that they are much more likely to come from working-class families. The fathers still appeared to have close relationships with their family of origin. Only 8 per cent had no contact, 60 per cent saw members of their parental family at least once a week and 75 per cent at least once a month. Only 30 per cent had no parental family member living within ten miles. In the qualitative study we also investigated how important the father’s extended family was in helping him to maintain contact with his children and these results will be discussed in Chapter 7.

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