British academy

Happy families? History and family policy

A report for the British Academy Policy Centre, by Professor Pat Thane FBA

Happy families? History and family policy discusses the history of families over the last few hundred years, examining claims that families today are 'broken'.

The report considers such issues as:

  • marriage;
  • divorce;
  • cohabitation;
  • birth rates, inside and outside marriage;
  • and domestic violence.

Download the full report


“Happy families?” A statement from the British Academy

Following the publication in November 2010 of the British Academy Policy Centre report Happy Families?  History and Family Policy” by Professor Pat Thane FBA, some criticisms were made of the report. The British Academy has conducted a review of these criticisms and has found the vast majority of them unfounded and/or inaccurate. A number of minor errors in the report, including some arising from the editing process, have been corrected in the online version of the report which can be downloaded above (for details of changes see full list below). The Academy continues to regard Professor’s Thane’s report as an important contribution to debate.

List of minor corrections to content

1 November 2011


The report was first published on 11 October 2010.

The revised version was made public on 1 November 2011.

News release, 10 October 2010: 'Broken Britain?'

Article in British Academy Review, October 2010 (pdf)

Professor Pat Thane discusses the report on Radio 4's 'Thinking Allowed', 27 October 2010