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Speaking Of: Families

January 04, 1994|Times researcher ANN GRIFFITH

Extended families become nuclear families; nuclear families become single-parent families; divorce is on the increase; cohabitation without marriage gains popularity; same-sex families organize; birthrates decline.

The very concept of the family is undergoing rapid and profound change nearly everywhere, which is one reason the U.N. General Assembly has proclaimed 1994 the International Year of the Family.

The breakdown of the extended family forces more aging parents to turn to government and private organizations for survival. Single-parent families are mostly headed by women, and many exist at or below the poverty level. Homes in which both parents work yield a generation of latchkey children.

The U.N. proclamation reflects increasing global concern over the situation of the family. Its objective: to foster among policy-makers a greater appreciation of this fundamental building block of society and to inspire increased action on its behalf.

A look at the key measures affecting the quality of family life in selected nations:

Highlights

* Largest Families: Iraq and the Maldives, with an average of 7.1 members.

Smallest: Denmark, Monaco and Sweden, with 2.2 members.

* Fewest families headed by women: Pakistan, only 4.3%.

Most: 45% in Botswana, Grenada and the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies.

* Marriage: Men and women both tend to get married well into their 30s in St. Lucia and Jamaica, while in Sao Tome and Principe, tiny volcanic islands off West Africa, the mean age for men at marriage is 21.6, and for women, 15.6.

* Youngest population: Malawi, with nearly 21% under age 5.

Oldest: Monaco, with more than 29% over age 60.

* Home ownership: Singapore takes the crown with 90%. In Qatar, the figure is less than 22%.

Declining Fertility Rates

Spacing pregnancies and decreasing improve the health of mothers and their babies and will eventually help to stabilize population growth and preserve nations' natural and economic resources. Fewer children also allows parents more time and money to care for their children, to say nothing of themselves.

AFRICA

Percent of Percent Mean age population Average headed by at marriage under 5 yrs/ Country size women (men/women) 60 or older Algeria 7.0 NA 25.3/21.0 15.3/5.3 Benin 5.4 NA 24.9/18.3 19.7/4.6 Botswana 4.7 45.2 30.8/26.4 17.3/5.6 Burkina Faso 6.2 NA 26.7/18.4 18.2/4.9 Burundi 4.6 24.7 24.1/20.8 18.7/4.8 Cameroon 5.2 13.9 26.4/18.8 17.4/5.6 Cape Verde 5.1 38.4 27.3/23.6 16.3/6.6 Congo 5.3 21.1 27.9/22.6 18.4/5.3 Egypt 4.9 NA 26.4/21.6 14.5/6.2 Ethiopia 4.5 NA 23.9/18.9 19.2/4.6 Gambia 3.4 NA NA/NA 18.2/4.9 Ghana 4.9 31.9 NA/NA 18.3/4.5 Guinea 6.7 NA NA/NA 19.4/4.3 Ivory Coast 6.0 NA 27.1/18.9 20.2/4.3 Kenya 5.1 NA 25.5/20.3 19.1/4.5 Liberia 6.2 12.0 NA/NA 18.4/5.4 Madagascar 4.5 15.5 23.5/20.3 18.2/4.8 Malawi 4.3 30.5 22.9/17.8 20.7/4.2 Mali 5.6 14.0 27.6/18.1 19.6/4.2 Mauritania 5.5 NA 27.5/19.5 18.2/5.0 Mauritius 4.5 17.6 27.5/23.8 9.2/8.1 Morocco 5.9 NA 27.1/22.2 15.1/5.9 Mozambique 4.3 NA 22.6/19.6 18.0/5.2 Niger 6.4 NA NA/NA 20.0/4.1 Rwanda 4.7 25.2 22.6/20.1 20.5/3.9 Sao Tome & Principe 3.8 NA 21.6/15.6 NA/NA Seychelles 4.5 NA 26.4/23.0 12.1/9.4 Sudan 5.6 NA 27.2/20.7 18.0/4.6 Tanzania 5.3 NA 24.9/19.1 19.4/4.0 Tunisia 5.5 NA 28.1/24.3 12.9/6.4 Uganda 4.8 NA NA/NA 20.0/4.1 Zaire 5.4 NA 25.4/20.1 19.5/4.6 Zambia 5.0 27.7 25.1/19.3 19.8/3.8

Percent of households that own Country their home Algeria 63.1 Benin 76.8 Botswana NA Burkina Faso NA Burundi NA Cameroon NA Cape Verde NA Congo 61.4 Egypt 30.9 Ethiopia NA Gambia 63.9 Ghana NA Guinea NA Ivory Coast 67.8 Kenya NA Liberia NA Madagascar NA Malawi NA Mali 84.2 Mauritania NA Mauritius 75.9 Morocco NA Mozambique NA Niger NA Rwanda NA Sao Tome & Principe NA Seychelles 63.7 Sudan 78.1 Tanzania 56.1 Tunisia 78.9 Uganda NA Zaire NA Zambia NA

NORTH AMERICA

Percent of Percent Mean age population Average headed by at marriage under 5 yrs/ Country size women (men/women) 60 or older Bahamas 3.8 35.9 27.3/24.8 9.8/6.3 Barbados 3.6 43.9 32.7/30.4 7.8/15.2 Belize 5.3 NA 26.2/23.9 16.6/7.6 Canada 2.7 28.4 26.5/24.3 7.1/15.8 Costa Rica 4.7 17.5 25.1/22.2 13.3/6.4 Cuba 4.1 28.2 23.5/19.8 8.4/11.8 Dominica 4.3 37.7 32.7/29.6 NA/NA Grenada 4.2 45.2 33.3/29.4 NA/NA Guatemala 5.2 NA 23.6/20.5 17.5/5.1 Haiti 4.8 NA 27.2/23.8 15.3/6.2 Jamaica 4.3 NA 33.8/32.2 11.2/9.1 Mexico 5.0 NA 24.1/21.6 13.5/5.6 Panama 4.4 22.3 25.2/21.4 12.4/7.1 Saint Kitts-Nevis 3.7 45.6 32.1/31.3 10.9/12.3 Saint Lucia 4.6 38.8 34.1/31.4 15.3/8.0 Saint Vincent & the Grenadines 4.8 42.4 32.2/28.2 NA/NA Trindad & Tobago 4.5 25.3 28.1/25.3 12.1/8.2 United States 2.6 33.4 27.7/25.2 7.4/16.8

Percent of households that own Country their home Bahamas NA Barbados 70.7 Belize 58.8 Canada 62.6 Costa Rica NA Cuba NA Dominica 66.4 Grenada 74.5 Guatemala 64.7 Haiti 73.2 Jamaica 46.7 Mexico 61.1 Panama 75.5 Saint Kitts-Nevis 56.7 Saint Lucia NA Saint Vincent & the Grenadines 72.1 Trindad & Tobago 63.6 United States 64.2

SOUTH AMERICA

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