Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the proportion of the population choosing to marry – especially in younger age groups – has plummeted.
The proportion of adults who have never married or been in a civil partnership has increased every decade from 26.3% in 1991 to 37.9% in 2021, and the proportion of adults who are married or in a civil partnership (including separated) has fallen from 58.4% in 1991 to 46.9% in 2021.
This trend is especially marked in the 25 to 29 years age group, where 73.9% chose not to marry or be in a civil partnership in 2011 rising to 84.2% in 2021. The increase for those aged 30 to 34 years was from 49.2% to 58.9% between 2011 and 2021.
The increase in adults who have never been married or in a civil partnership (since 2011), after standardising for age, is seen across all local authorities, religious groups, and ethnic groups.
The proportion of adults who are divorced has remained similar in 2021 (9.1%) and 2011 (9.0%), though the proportion of younger adults who are divorced has decreased while the proportion of older adults has increased.
“[The ONS’] data confirms that marriage is falling ‘out of fashion’”, said Kingsley Napley Family partner Abby Buckland, adding:
“These statistics should add weight to the importance of the Government bringing proper focus to the rights of cohabiting couples.
Disappointingly, reform in this area was effectively shelved by the Government at the end of last year, a decision which, this data shows, could leave huge numbers of individuals without effective legal protections should their relationships end.”
The proportion of adults who are married or in a civil partnership has fallen between 1991 and 2021. Source: ONS