At the age of 11, around 92 per cent of children born to married couples were still living with both their mother and father.

For those with cohabiting parents, the proportion was only 55 per cent. The analysis of the results by academics from the Institute of Education said: ‘Nearly four in every ten children born at the turn of the century lived through at least one change in their parents’ relationship status in their first 11 years – up from one in ten in 1969.’

For many youngsters, the anguish of seeing their mother and father separate is not just a one-off. The study said one in seven had been through more than one family break-up.

The fresh evidence of growing levels of family breakdown comes at a time of deepening concern over the decline of marriage and its impact on children.