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Islington named the “unmarried capital” of England & Wales

New data from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that in 2011, more than 15.7 million adults (35% of those aged 16 and over) in England and Wales had never been married.

This represents a 5% rise in the proportion of unmarried adults: in 2001, 12.5 million (30%) adults have never been married.

The researchers identified Islington, in North London, as the location with the highest proportion of singletons. More than 60 per cent of Islington residents had never married.

As it turns out, the five local authorities in England and Wales with the highest proportions of residents who have never married are all in London:

  • Islington (59.9%)
  • Lambeth (58.4%)
  • Hackney (57.5%)
  • Hammersmith and Fulham (55.9%)
  • Tower Hamlets (55.3%)

The five local authorities identified as having the lowest proportions of residents who have never married are as follows:

  • East Dorset (21.0%)
  • East Devon (23.7%)
  • North Kesteven (23.7%)
  • Christchurch South (24.0%)
  • Northamptonshire (24.2%)

In 2011 there were also 23 million (51%) “not married” people, a rise from 19.4 million (47%) in 2001. This group included those who had never married or were divorced or widowed.

The researchers at the Office of National Statistics have attributed the rise in the single population to a number of possible factors. These include the proportional decline in marriage since the 1970s and the “increased social acceptability” of remaining single or cohabiting (either never marrying or not remarrying following divorce or widowhood).

They have also produced an interactive map, showing the proportion of those never married and those not married by area, age and sex:

 Image credit: dbaron.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. JamesB says:

    The reason being the lack of credibility or legitimacy of the family law courts and divorce has undermined the institution. The acceptance of sex outside marriage that you mention has also been a factor, although a less significant one than men voting with their feet not wanting to be stitched-up by the family law court. Women being more independent another smaller factor. I did see at my son’s primary school leaving play one girl said she wanted to be the partner of a footballer when she grew-up. I found it interesting that she didn’t say wife, interesting and a little bit sad.

    The only way out of divorce is not to get married in this country. You can be divorced for no good reason in this country and be stitchedup, that unfairness has happened so much that it is not as fashionable as it was.

    A little appropriate with the 100 year anniversary of men queuing up to be senselessly slaughtered, I do not think it rational for men to queue up to be slaughtered upon divorce. It is time England and Wales legalised pre-nups fully, or abandoned Unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce. Unless the courts do this marriage in this Country is in continual decline as it makes no sense for men to queue up to be slaughtered in the divorce courts. Especially as sex outside of marriage is so readily available these days.

    I intend having the discussion with my son as he gets older; a pity as marriage can be a good partnership and it is nice to have someone you can rely on without going through life as a one, to go through life as half of a partnership is better. Shame the law has messed it all up currently. Please un-mess-it-all-up.

    • Rufus says:

      Please provide evidence, apart from your own anecdotes and that of your mates, to back up the answer you give in your first sentence.

      • Luke says:

        Well Rufus, I think JamesB is a bit too harsh – but it IS a widely held view amongst men who end up in Family Court.
        I assume you would believe Marilyn when she says:

        “In my experience, breadwinners – most of whom are men – abhor these new rules. It is no coincidence that as the marriage rate declines, cohabitation, which comes without the legal strings, is soaring in popularity. I believe many are avoiding marriage because of the sharing principle, which dictates that if the marriage ends, the wealthier partner (often the man) should split their assets equally.”

        Now, I know Marilyn doesn’t agree with them- and you may not agree either – but to deny that this has not had an effect on the way Family Court and marriage itself is viewed by a significant proportion of the population is just unrealistic.

        Note: I would add that my experience with friends is that the split is often not 50:50, where children are involved it seems to be more like 60:40 in favour of the woman – and this usually includes all assets amassed before the marriage, including inheritance.

      • JamesB says:

        Sorry, I need to be quick. The first figure is the decline in first marriages. Also anecdotes on meeting people out and about as you say. Another item was the ridiculous petition for Unreasonable Behaviour which was stamped off as a reason for divorce when it made no sense and was not true. Another reason is the unenforceability of contact orders.

        As I say the courts need to get real or more people will do their own thing outside of them, like with Sharia law, or co-habitation. By get real I mean it is not good that the divorce starts with a petition which is a lie to get it done when it is usually the petitioner at fault. Once you bring in no fault divorce, as you should, then it is only decent to bring in pre nups.

        It is only decent that the courts should be honest and either support marriage vows or advise people to write their own. As it stands they are fooling no-one by claiming divorce settlements are fair when they are just designed to support the children and in the process exacerbate the problem.

      • JamesB says:

        Rufus, to spell it out for you, the evidence is in the continuing decline in the number of first time marriages. It can’t be any clearer than that.

  2. JamesB says:

    p.s. With regards to the new site, it would be even nicer if comments could be edited by the people who submitted them after they have been submitted, as they are on other blogs. Conservativehome (.com I think) springs to mind. Best regards, J.

    • Karyn @ Stowe Famiy Law says:

      Hmm, we don’t have any way of doing that at present, but will definitely bear in mind for the next set of updates… In meantime, if you do wish to make any changes or corrections after a comment has been posted, you are very welcome to email [email protected] and we will do it manually.

      • Luke says:

        I too think it would be a good idea – but quite understand that it is not available now.

        If I may make a suggestion if you ever do add it – and that is to time limit the editing option – otherwise you will find people editing their posts so that the responses don’t make much sense and in some unfortunate cases people going through all their posts weeks/months later emptying them all and effectively trashing all the responses as they have changed their mind about posting !

  3. What family lawyers were talking about this week... - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] People aged 40 and over made up a larger proportion of the cohabiting population in 2011: 41%, up fr…. This data was included in the latest release by the Office for National Statistics, drawing upon […]

  4. JamesB says:

    Exacerbate the problem, by encouraging the women to divorce and undermining marriage by making the vows null and void. I am ok with that, and no fault divorce, provided you legalise pre nups. Alternatively, stop messing up peoples lives with dodgy divorce petitions. Go one way or the other, either fault or no fault divorce properly please. I prefer no fault, but fault would be better than the nonsense the court is currently in this space.

  5. JamesB says:

    My UB petition was all made up and proved as true when it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford to defend it, there needs to be a better way, including pre nups, or take that ground out as it is being abused and is not used for why it was meant. Politicians don’t carry the legitimacy they used to, not that they talk on this issue anyway. If you prove that black is white in a court order and have it found as fact (basically what my UB petition was) then you are basically making the court a ridiculous laughing stock, as the whole basis for the divorce was wrong (in law), I am beginning to repeat myself, I think I have made my point now, it needs to change, I suggest not back to what it was, but towards people writing their own vows and pre nups as the vows taken at marriage count for nothing in law anymore and that is wrong.

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