Fewer married couples in Britain

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 08:10 hrs

London, Dec 12 (IANS) Fewer than half the population in Britain are now married, a government census report has showed.

The number of those over 16 who declare themselves to be married has dropped to 46.6 percent, it showed.

In the 2001 census, the majority were still husbands or wives, at 50.9 percent, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

The census found 21,197,000 married people in England and Wales, only 39,000 more than in 2001 despite the 3.7 million increase in the overall population.

The 46.6 percent who were married compared with over two-thirds, 67 percent, in 1971.

Just over a third of the adult population, 34.6 percent, was single, up from 30.1 percent in 2001. The singles in the census include those in cohabiting relationships.

There were 105,000 people in civil partnerships, 0.2 percent of the adult population, the Mail said.

The historic landmark in the decline of the traditional family came at a time of rising political tension over the status of marriage.

Tory MPs are pressing David Cameron to bring in tax breaks to help married couples, while the prime minister is under pressure from dissident back-benchers over his plans to allow same-sex couples to marry.

There were only 241,000 weddings in England and Wales in 2010, compared to over 400,000 in 1972, and as cohabitation has spread, family break-up has quickened.

Lone parent households make up another 10 percent, and 30 percent of homes have just one individual, according to the Mail.

The report said the percentage that were married fell by between four and six percentage points in all regions except London, where it fell by two percentage points.

The greater stability of marriage in London may be linked to the arrival of high numbers of immigrants who continue to place high value on being married, the newspaper said.

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