The Marriage Gap

Top Family judge calls on senior politicians to break their decade of silence on the importance of marriage

Sir Paul Coleridge, who was a senior High Court judge in the family division for 14 years, will say on the eve of UK Marriage Week, it has been more than a decade since any senior member of the Government or opposition has taken a positive stand in support of marriage whilst a major new study confirms “the marriage gap” between rich and poor has worsened.

“The old adage of the unrepentant hypocrite “do as I say not as I do” should  be the motto of the senior politicians of this country when  it comes to marriage ” he said. “They are almost to a man or woman married but there is a deafening silence from them when it comes to talking about its advantages. It is surely time they preached what they almost all practise ”

He will urge the country’s most senior political figures to promote policies which make sure “the acknowledged benefits of marrying are appreciated by and available to all, regardless of where they are on the income scale “.

Sir Paul will issue his call, as a major new study from Marriage Foundation, reveals the marriage gap, (the rate at which couples tie the knot,) between the richest and poorest has grown and is now between 37 per cent (at best)  and 53 per cent (at worst).

“In 2015, we identified and highlighted the reality of the marriage gap for the first time, identifying that among parents with children under five, 87 per cent of those in the highest income quintile were married compared to 24 per cent of those in the lowest income quintile…”, the report says

“Now among newborns in 2021, 71 per cent of parents in high-earning families were married compared to 34 per cent in low-earning families. However among parents ‘not classified’, marriage rates were even worse, just 18 per cent marry. So for newborns “The marriage gap” between high and low earners is 37 per cent, and for the very poorest 53 per cent.”

While acknowledging that marriage rates have been declining, Sir Paul, who founded Marriage Foundation in 2012 will say that the “real tragedy is the less well off have been hit the most; the less money you have, the less likely you are to marry. And they are surely the sector who would benefit most from the extra family stability which  marriage invariably brings. The odds of staying together if you are married are very significantly better if you marry and not only you but your children are the winners  ”

“There are some who prophesy that marriage as an institution is finished, so that the marriage gap is irrelevant because of the declining marriage rate. But that is a travesty.  As our groundbreaking survey last year showed, marriage remains universally popular, with nine in 10 young people across all of society aspiring to marry, regardless of income or any other factor. Yet when we look at who actually ties the knot, the answer is , predominantly the rich. So, the simple and real tragedy is the less money you have, the less likely you are to marry”.

“You might think that senior politicians, almost all of whom are married, would want to make sure the benefits of marrying are unapologetically advocated by them and made available to all, regardless of a couple’s bank balance. But what have we heard in the last decade on this appalling state of affairs? A prolonged and deafening silence. This must change.”

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