Over the past 50 years, there have been major changes across the developed world in the fundamental processes that shape families – the formation, dissolution and reconstitution of adult unions, and the patterns of childbearing that occur within and outside these unions. This report provides a detailed account of how these changes have occurred in New Zealand, drawing on data from the 1995 survey New Zealand Women: Family, Education and Employment.
The primary purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of patterns of family formation, dissolution and reconstitution in New Zealand and how these patterns have changed in recent decades. It is also motivated by a desire to understand how these changes have affected the family contexts in which children grow up. Thus, in addition to providing a picture of broad shifts over time in dynamic processes of family formation and change, the report focuses on the proportions of children who spend part of their lives in sole-parent and reconstituted or “blended” families, the duration of time children spend in sole-parent families and patterns of leaving home among children in different family circumstances.