Family of the future

Our sense of the family as a concept has transformed greatly over the past decades and will continue to do so into the future. The traditional image of a family structure, two adults and children, is quickly changing.

Young generation is refusing to be portrayed as the “perfect family” living in a clean house with well-behaved children. Today we see more and more different types of family such as unmarried or homosexual couples with children…

At the same time, however, the family is still seen as the basic unit / microcosm of society. How will the traditional family model will look like over few decades, by 2050?

In predicting the future, we need to understand individual’s choices and identify the influencing factors that will shape the families.

The demographers established a set of global forces that will certainly make the difference: international migration, important developments in reproductive technology and in medicine, huge demographic changes & growing megacities, escalating demand for energy, food and water, increased self-fulfilment and individualism, changing definitions of quality of life, increasing longevity, empowerment of women and gender equality.

There will still be variations depending on countries: religion, degree of poverty, the extent to which governments will regulate new emerging cohabiting forms like same-sex or non-marital, etc.

Furthermore, we assume that the future could always come up with some unpredictable surprises but… nothing ventured, nothing gained.

On the basis of these existing factors, we have some clear clues about the most probable changes and we can establish a set of patterns of future unions / families:

  • Convergence towards diversity: marriage, sex and parenthood are likely to be separated.
  • Increased of emerging family forms: lone parenthood, transgender parenthood, non-marital fertility, cohabiting non-marital couples, reconstituted families…
  • Tandem tribes, a family home shared by two or several single parents. Balanced shared house responsibilities, paternity leave on the same level as maternity leave.
  • In extended version as multiple tribes: several families living under the same roof in order to provide encouraging, low-cost, enjoyable, positive, flexible living. It’s also worth pointing out that the partners in these families could remain exclusive to each other, or engage in polyamorous relationships.
  • Multi-generational families: on the basis of radical life extension, humans could have brothers or sisters who are decades older or younger.
  • Gender-fluidity, as we are slowly but progressively moving towards a post-gendered society, in which families will support and encourage gender exploration and transition.
  • Transnational families, even living geographically separated (possible in evolving tailored habitats) but connected via modern technologies.
  • Modular movers: no country and no home. Living in flexible spaces around the world, they move from one city to another as they are nomadic professionals and their home is more like a hotel.
  • Families LAT, ‘living apart together’, with each partner in the relationship maintaining or living in a separate household.
  • Silver linings: families with or without children strongly involved in society, considering it more important than their own family, reaching out for positivity, stability, simplicity, meaningful life.
  • More ‘childfree’ couples, living life only for themselves or families with fewer children per household, with a tendency to be stronger in developing countries.
  • Rurales: more families living in rural communities but being hyper-connected and self-sufficient in food and energy production.
  • More families with children coming from adoption, artificial insemination, or surrogacy.
  • Stable, happy unions that prefer cohabitation over marriage, with a decreased risk of separation.

Going further, we can even come up with some extra ‘futuristic scenarios’, even harder to imagine now but mostly realistic by the end of this century: clone families, robotic and artificially intelligent caregivers, space colonist families, post-cryonic families, virtual families.

The impact of these changes on the evolving opportunities and challenges for business are enormous. It is important to understand and anticipate the future family structures in order to adapt brands and to develop next successful business.

Let’s take a simple example: divorce rates are surging globally and populations with a divorced marital status will be by far the fastest growing till 2050. The single-parent market is relatively untouched and therefore segments such as hotels, leisure and travel agencies have already started adapting to this more common family type.

So listen to the family changing and prepare your business strategy today. 🙂

Author: Adriana Munteanu,

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