According to the Office for National Statistics, 53% of births are to married parents. However this total figure conceals a dramatic variation in the prevalence of marriage – the Marriage Gap.
Our new analysis of data from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) reveals that, among mothers with children under five, 87% of those in higher income groups are married compared to just 24% of those in lower income groups. This represents a difference in ‘odds ratios’ of six times.
Further analysis of General Household Survey (GHS) data going back to 1972 shows that a Marriage Gap has opened up across mothers of different ages, those who buy rather than rent, those with a degree or not, those who smoke or not, and those who work or not.
The Marriage Gap matters because couples who marry before having a child are more likely to stay together, thus avoiding the increased risks to income and child well-being if they split up.