Who are non-resident fathers?: A British socio-demographic profile

Eloise Poole (Lead Author), Svetlana Speight, Margaret O'Brien, Sara Connolly, Matthew Aldrich

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite international growth of, and policy interest in, divorce and separation since the 1970s, there is still surprisingly little known about non-residential fatherhood. This paper presents a ‘father-centric’ analysis and provides one of the first profiles of non-residential fatherhood in early millennium UK. Using data from Understanding Society Wave 1, a nationally representative survey of over 30,000 households in the UK, we found 1,070 men self-identifying as having a non-resident child under 16 years old (https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk). We estimate a prevalence of 5 per cent of British men having a non-resident dependent child. Through latent class analysis, four distinct groups of non-resident fathers are identified: ‘Engaged’ fathers, ‘Less Engaged’ fathers, ‘Disengaged’ fathers and ‘Distance’ fathers. Our analysis finds that non-resident fathers form a heterogeneous group in terms of their socio-demographic profile and family behaviour. It is recommended that legislation and policy concerning fathers in post-separation families are sensitive to variation as well as commonality in socio-economic conditions and family lives and situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-250
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Issue number2
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Contact
  • Children
  • Fathers
  • Involvement
  • Non-resident
  • Separation

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