Marriages rise for the first time in 6 years

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Marriages are on the increase according to new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures reveal the first overall nationwide increase in marriage for six years, and the fastest increase in the number of marriage for a decade. Interestingly, it's those over 35 who are really fuelling the increase.

Men aged 45-49 getting married increased by 5.9 per cent in 2010 - the biggest rise of any category, while the increase for women aged 30-34 was 6.1 percent. And the average age of those tying the knot is now 36.2 years for men, and 33.6 for women. That's a huge jump from 40 years ago when those averages were almost a decade younger.

For England and Wales marriages rose by 3.7 per cent in 2010 to 241,100, and despite just over one third of those involving either one or both partner re-marrying, 66 per cent of the couples were both getting married for the first time, just choosing to do so later in life.

Meanwhile the UK as a whole saw a 4 per cent increase in marriages from 2009- 2010 to 277,740

The ONS commentary explains that the trend towards marrying later in life could be the result of cohabiting couples choosing not to tie the knot, or to delay marriage, or an increasing number of people getting married for a second time.

The number of couples who are unmarried but cohabiting has risen sharply in the 10 years from 2001, from 2.1 million to 2.9 million in 2011, and the ONS reason that attitudes towards cohabitation have changed, with many of us seeing it as little different socially from being married.
There is also some evidence to show that the number of more recent marriages ending in divorce has levelled off.
Commentators have cited a number of possible reasons for the increase in couples heading up the aisle including the recession and financial uncertainty feeding people's need for greater security, and the political rhetoric on the importance of marriage in David Cameron's election campaign.

The ONS also say that the figure could be down to a reduction in the number of residents marrying abroad, presumably because of financial considerations.

ONS statistics show that in more general terms marriage has been on a longer-term downwards trend since the early 70s, and it remains to be seen whether these latest figures really display a turnaround in our more recent attitudes towards marriage, or whether they are just a short-term trend.
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