Marriage in decline as fewer than half tie the knot

The trend for cohabitation and single living is growing, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have confirmed.

marriage in decline
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Of the 44.9 million adults living in England and Wales, 48.4 per cent have tied the knot, while the number of those foregoing the marriage tradition has doubled since the 1970s.

Single living or cohabitation is now the preferred, or at least more common, option putting marriage figures in decline.

Though the percentage of never-married or divorced people in England and Wales is below that of married couples at 46 per cent, the figures suggest it won't be long before the majority of the population is unmarried.

So why the decline? The cessation of tax breaks and legal privileges for wedded couples may play its part but the figures suggest the rise of the 'freemale' may be to blame.

Ever-increasing numbers of women are achieving a better standard of education, leading to the pursuit of high-flying careers means close to eight million women are swapping marriage and family life for cohabitation and career progression, though the life of a housewife and mother is simply not financially viable for many.

Nevertheless the figures reveal that almost one in three women remain single.

However, the ONS points out that Brits are still ahead of the European competition when it comes to marriage, stating, "The proportion of the adult population of England and Wales who are married is one of the highest in Europe."

What do you think - why are so many couples shunning marriage? Leave your comments below...