Education & Family

Marriage on the decline as singles rise

The percentage of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales who are married has fallen to its lowest level since 2002, official figures show.

In 2015, 50.6% of the population was married, compared with 54.8% in 2002, the Office of National Statistics says.

The second largest category - single, never civil partnered or married - grew from 29.6% to 34.5% during this time.

"Cohabitation has become more common as an alternative to marriage, especially at younger ages," the ONS says.

Although marriage has also declined among the middle-aged.

The divorced or widowed made up a smaller proportion of the total population in 2015, at 8.1% and 6.5% respectively, the widowed population falling from 8.1% in 2002, after continuing increases in life expectancy, particularly for men.

The smallest group was the civil partnered, making up 0.2% of the population aged 16 and over in 2015.

ONS statistician Pamela Cobb said: "Just over half of the population aged 16 and over were married in 2015.

"This figure has steadily declined since 2002, which could be associated with a rise in cohabiting among those who have never married or formed a civil partnership."

In 2015, 26,023 people - 0.1% of the married population - were in a same-sex marriage 13,150 (51%) men and 12,872 (49%) women

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