The number of people living together without being married continues to rise, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported.
According to newly published ‘population estimates’, close to 10 per cent of the population aged 16 or ever were cohabiting last year without ever having married or entered a civil partnership, an increase of just under three per cent in the last 13 years – in 2002 the percentage stood at 6.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, more than half of all people aged 16 or over lived as part of a married couple – 50.6 per cent of the population or 23.8 million people in total. This figure represents the latest stage in a ‘steady decline’ since 2002, when just under 55 per cent of the population were married. A decline is noticeable even when compared to the married population in 2014: in that year it stood at 51.5 per cent of everyone aged 16 or over.
According to ONS statistician Pamela Cobb, the falling numbers “could be associated with a rise in cohabiting amongst those who have never married or formed a civil partnership.”
The percentage of single people has also risen, the statistics show. Last year 34.5 per cent of people over the age of 16 lived alone – it was less than 34 per cent 2014 and in 2002 less than 30 per cent.
The proportion of divorcees also appears to have eaten into the marriage figure: there were more than 3,817,912 people last year with at least one marriage behind them – 8.1 per cent of the population. In 2014 it stood at 3,802,489.
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Photo of wedding favours by Corey Balazowich via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence