Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate the divide between the rich and the poor in the UK is also being reflected in those who marry and those who do not. The role of marriage as a cohesive force in society is a story that often comes up here on the blog.
Christian Guy, the director of the Centre for Social Justice, said that the institution of marriage “has become a preserve of the better off”. He suggested that the cost of a wedding ceremony may discourage some people from getting married at all.
Mr Guy added that the benefits system in the UK does not help matters. He claimed that people are “better off financially” if they live alone, and that this has led to “much less stability throughout the population”.
The ONS statistics were published following a request by Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator magazine. He said that a “marriage gap” has doubled in the last decade, even though it “barely existed a generation or two ago”.
Those who are better off are almost 50 per cent more likely to get married than people with less money, he added. The result is that marriage is “becoming the preserve of the rich.”
Last year, the government announced the Marriage Tax Allowance as a gesture of support for the institution. Starting in 2015, married couples will receive a tax cut.
The fall in marriages is also having a knock-on effect on family breakdowns among the less well off. 93 per cent of children were born to married parents in 1964. The ONS figures indicate that less than one in ten married parents separate by the time a child reaches five. By contrast, in the last decade a third of unmarried parents separated.