Less than half of the adult population is now married, figures confirmed for the first time yesterday.
The watershed for marriage is the culmination of 30 years during which cohabitation has become the norm and successive governments have ceased to offer tax breaks, legal privileges or state approval to the married.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 21.6million of the 44.9million adults who live in England and Wales are married – 48.4 per cent of the population.
The number of those who have never tied the knot has doubled since the 1970s.
The statistics also highlight the rise of the so-called freemale, revealing that almost one in three women have never wed.
Nearly eight million women live the single life or opt for informal cohabiting relationships rather than have a husband and family.
The ONS said many of the freemales were women in their 20s and 30s, who have achieved a better standard of education than boys and have gone on in ever greater numbers to pursue careers.
Married people first appeared to fall into a minority three years ago, but ONS analysts insisted the numbers were misleading, saying they failed to take into account large numbers who marry abroad.
The new count, however, which sets out the married population in the middle of last year, does include estimates of those who married before migrating to Britain, or while living as expats abroad, or as tourists away on holiday.
The ONS presented the decline of marriage as less swift in England than elsewhere. ‘The proportion of the adult population of England and Wales who are married is one of the highest in Europe,’ it said.
The estimates said 21,643,000 are husbands or wives, while there are just under 16million single people who have never married and just over 3.1million divorcees.
The combined count of never-married and divorced people amounts to nearly 46 per cent of the population and at current rates will overtake the married population within a few years.
Cohabitation is fuelling the destruction of the family while separations and divorces have brought suffering and loneliness, the Vatican said yesterday. It declared that Catholic couples should not set up home together before marriage.
ScienceDaily (July 13, 2009) — University of Denver (DU) researchers find that couples who live together before they are engaged have a higher chance of getting divorced than thos
US marriages last longer than unions where couples live together outside matrimony, the Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday. About 78 percent of marriages lasted five