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Map of the week: Economically inactive - other

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Mark Easton | 12:10 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008

With the prime minister yesterday promising "thousands more nursery places...for two-year-olds" this week's Map of the week focuses on parents who stay at home to look after their children.

What we are looking at are maps which show where the highest proportion of adults are "economically inactive - other". So not unemployed, in education, sick nor retired. There isn't a census box for "at home looking after the kids" but it's thought that most of the 4.1 million people who fell into this category in 2001 were exactly that.

Map showing the economically inactive - other

Where's where on these maps?

These most recent figures show the group making up 7% of the population, far less than the 9.6% or 5.5 million people ten years earlier.

So, full-time-at-home parents have been dwindling but numbers haven't been falling everywhere and the maps reveal some places with significantly higher proportions than others.

Across North London, the West Midlands, the North West of England and Northern Ireland there are high numbers in this category.

In some areas it is where there is a greater proportion of lone parents, in others it is where there are communities from particular ethnic groups. Social norms may play a factor in some places - it has simply become the way people tend to live their lives.

But there doesn't appear to be any one common factor at play and I'd be interested to hear people's ideas on why certain places crop up.

Also interesting to note that in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Bradford, Stoke, Birmingham, Leicester and London the decline in this way of life has not happened. Numbers may actually have increased.

We don't know what has happened since the last census given the government's commitment to get more mothers back to work. Again, I'd be interested to hear your experiences and your views on whether politicians should be encouraging parents to get a job rather than devote their time to bringing up a family.

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