Marriage in modern Britain is out of reach, not out of fashion

20 MAY 2008

A new report from Civitas, 'Second Thoughts on the Family', finds marriage to be more popular than ever - but a luxury beyond the reach of many.

Defying the idea that marriage is 'dead', a new Civitas/Ipsos Mori survey of 1,560 young people reveals that the overwhelming majority want to get married.

A nationally representative sample of 20-35 year-olds shows that seven in ten want to marry and that cohabitation has not replaced marriage as 79 per cent of those cohabiting want to marry.

The number one reason why young people want to marry is to make a commitment (47 per cent). The figures in the report show that, despite it no longer being socially 'necessary', marriage is in fact more popular than ever.

'In the past people had to marry,' comments Anastasia de Waal, author of the report and Head of Family and Education at Civitas, 'today people want to.' However, family patterns shown in the last Census and Millennium Cohort Study reveal that marriage is out of reach for Britain's poorest.

The report reveals a striking relationship between income and family structure and exposes a poverty divide between the marrieds and the non-marrieds: it is the divide between the haves and have-nots.

The 2001 Census also highlights the correlation between poverty and non-marriage, showing that areas in Britain with the highest proportion of cohabiting parents are 'notorious for the economic breakdown of once thriving working-class industries'. By contrast, marriage is concentrated in areas with high numbers of middle-class families.

The report concludes that marriage doesn't need incentivising and that more employment, not tax-breaks, will enable couples to marry.

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