Decline of Marriage for the Middle Class

Daily Mail (London), August 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

Decline of Marriage for the Middle Class


Byline: Eleanor Harding Education Correspondent

GETTING married is falling out of fashion among middle class families as only three in five couples now bother to walk down the aisle, figures reveal.

Marriage rates for middle-income couples with young children fell from 84 per cent in 1994 to 59 per cent in 2012.

Researchers said the trend away from tying the knot was largely confined to low-income groups before the 1990s, but is now spreading up the socio-economic scale.

The analysis by the Marriage Foundation was based on data from the Government's Family Resources Survey and the General Household Survey.

Harry Benson, research director for the foundation, said the findings would fuel fears of higher family break-up rates among the middle classes.

He said that cohabiting couples make up only 19 per cent of parents, but account for half of all family breakdowns.

He added: 'Our research shows a concerning spread in the collapse of marriage among the lowest earners to middle earners over recent years.

'When a socio-economic group turns away from marriage, we see a corresponding hike in the rates of family breakdown.' He said that the official nature of marriage may contribute to helping families stay together. 'Staying in a relationship over the course of a child's life can be extremely testing and takes a big commitment on both sides from the outset,' he said.

'While there are cohabiting couples who discuss their future, make the commitment and succeed in staying together, they are unfortunately rare. …

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