Marriage rates see shocking fall, finds Marriage Foundation

Analysing the latest ONS statistics on marriage for 2013, Marriage Foundation has found:   First marriage rates are now at an all-time low for

Analysing the latest ONS statistics on marriage for 2013, Marriage Foundation has found:


  • First marriage rates are now at an all-time low for brides at 25.6 per 1,000 single women, and equal to the previous all-time low seen in 2009 for grooms at 21.7 per 1,000 unmarried men.
  • There were fewer weddings in 2013 across all age groups, from age 20 to age 49.
  • The average age at first marriage continues to climb, at 30.6 for brides and 32.5 for grooms
  • The big increase in weddings during the first half of 2012 that Marriage Foundation attributed to the Royal wedding in the previous year has well and truly unwound.
  • There is some evidence that this unwind could have been exacerbated by the ‘number 13’ effect. The biggest monthly change in weddings was during peak wedding season – falls in June, July, September and December weddings far exceeded an increase in August weddings.
  • Previous Marriage Foundation research from the Family Resources Survey has shown that marriage is increasingly the preserve of the rich. While 87 per cent of top earners (over £43,000) with young children are married – showing almost no trend away from marriage since the 1970s – this compares to 60 per cent of middle earners and just 25 per cent of the lowest earners with young children who are married.
  • Marriage Foundation research also shows that married parents are far more likely to remain together while bringing up their children. Whereas 76 per cent of parents who are married when their child is born will still be together when the child reaches age 16, this contrasts with just 44 per cent of unmarried parents who stay together if they subsequently marry and just 31 per cent of those who remain unmarried. In our analysis, from the survey Understanding Society, mother’s age and education had no effect on stability whatsoever.


Harry Benson, Research Director for Marriage Foundation, commented:

“The latest statistics show marriage rates fell dramatically in 2013. It is a damning indictment of a supposedly pro-marriage government. Despite all their rhetoric of wanting to help promote family stability and improve outcomes for children, they have failed to tackle the disincentive to marriage in the tax system.

“So far this government has brought in a token married couples tax allowance, worth a paltry £200 a year. It’s no wonder that that has done nothing to counter the £7,000 tax penalty on couples who move in together.

“The reluctance of our Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb to champion marriage when he himself benefits from the stability the institution provides is surprising.

“It is irrefutable that marriage benefits families hugely and children in particular. Evidence shows that child outcomes are worse in lone-parent and non-married families because of the devastating effect of family breakdown.

“Only seven percent of parents who are still together when their children reach 15 are not married. If this Government is serious about tacking family breakdown, it needs to back marriage unambiguously.”



Notes to editors:

For media inquiries please contact Beatrice Timpson on 07803 726 977.

Harry Benson is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.
The Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 40 years as a barrister and judge specialising in family law. The Foundation seeks to improve public understanding of marriage reduce the numbers of people drawn into the family justice system – some 500,000 children and adults each year.


The Foundation has highlighted the crisis of family breakdown. Their research has found that a child born today only has a 50 per cent chance of living with both parents by the time they reach fifteen.


Foundation research has also found that 93 percent of parents who stay together until their child’s fifteenth birthday are married.

Sign up for updates