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Marriage at an all time low

Today’s release from the Office for National Statistics reveals that marriage has hit an all-time low.

  • The number of weddings in 2015 was 239,020, down 3.4 per cent on the previous year.
  • Marriage rates, the proportion of unmarried people who marry in any given year, are now at their lowest level since records began, more than two thirds down from their peak in 1972.

All of this makes for pretty grim reading, just as there were signs that the trend away from marriage had bottomed out. Even if we get a temporary bounce next year from the effects of another Royal wedding, we are not there yet.

The only remotely good news is that weddings continue to rise among the over 45s and there are signs that a slowly rising proportion of us are ever likely to get married based on today’s rates – we’ll do a report on this soon.

That we now have the lowest marriage rates on record should be a wake-up call for our fast asleep policy-makers. Britain already languishes in shame at the bottom of the developed world league table for family stability, almost entirely due to the trend away from marriage and formal commitment.

There is a very simple equation

  • Less marriage equals less commitment equals more family breakdown.

Although some level of breakdown is inevitable, it remains the case that staying together for life is the norm for couples who marry whereas it is the exception for those who do not, across the social spectrum.

The consequences of this are especially important for children’s mental health. In a recent study for Marriage Foundation, we found that family breakdown is the number one factor driving Britain’s teenage mental health epidemic.

Future generations will not thank us for our foolish disregard for commitment and stability.

Government needs to wake up and get serious about marriage now

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