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26 JAN 2010

Public attitudes to cohabitation are becoming more liberal

Britain is becoming increasingly liberal in its views about how people choose to live their lives, according to the latest National Centre for Social Research's British Social Attitudes survey published today.

On cohabitation, 45% of respondents said it made "no difference" whether a child's parents were married or just living together - up from 38% in 1998.

The reports authors say that the change is partly because younger generations, who tend to have more tolerant views, are replacing older, less tolerant, ones. But, according to the report, people's views are also shaped by their own experiences.

The report's co-author, Andy Ross, said: "Changing attitudes reflect a complex combination of factors. In general, we are becoming more liberal and tolerant. But our attitudes are also strongly shaped by what we see in our daily lives.

"This is why people in their 60s and older have become more tolerant than we might expect about issues like cohabitation. Perhaps the personal experience of becoming a grandparent of a child born outside marriage might be leading older people to take a more liberal view on this issue."

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