Changing Britain, Changing Lives is a new report from the UK Institute of Education which notes many changes in the lives of Britons born in 1946, 1958 and 1970 - few of which appear to be for the better in terms of individual happiness. The report is particularly important because it analyses the lives of everyone born in one week in each of these three years, a total of some 40'000 people. One of the most remarkable findings is that family background seems to have counted more for those born in 1970 than for the earlier groups, despite the supposed widening of educational opportunities in Britain. In education and employment class remain a dominant factor - Those at the bottom end of the socio-economic scale manifested little evidence of the rising standards enjoyed by the majority the report notes. One striking comparison is that of those born in 1970, 23 per cent admitted to being unhappy with their first mariage, compared to 3 per cent among the 1958 group. Another is that average female earnings were almost twice as high for 30-year-olds born in 1970 than for those born in 1946. Again, the 1970 group remain longer in the family home because of the cost of housing, marry and start a family later - often at the point that their own parents may be looking to them for support. Generally the study shows a society whose members are more individualistic and selfcentred yet increasingly dependent for their career and financial success on family background.
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