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Marriage gap

October 2015

There is an ‘alarming widening’ of the marriage gap between rich and poor, the Marriage Foundation (MF) has found, with the poorer in society more likely to be single parents.

The data has found that mothers with young children are four times more likely to be married if they are wealthy than if they are poor.

Among mothers with children aged five and under, 87 per cent of those with household incomes over £45,000 are married, compared to 24 per cent of those with incomes of less than £14,000.

Other social indicators, such as education and housing status, have also indicated a stark gap between uptake of marriage for the most and least privileged.

According to the MF, only 25 per cent of mothers in social housing were married in 2006, the latest available year of data from the General Household Survey, compared to 72 per cent of mothers with a mortgage.

This gap has opened up almost entirely since the 1970s, when marriage uptake for both groups — regardless of housing status — was around 90 per cent.

Harry Benson, research director of the MF, the think-tank dedicated to promoting stable families, compiled the report in collaboration with Professor Stephen McKay of Lincoln University.

Mr Benson said, ‘What our research shows is an almost universal take-up of marriage among the rich, while for the poor it is on course for total extinction’. Previous research from the MF has shown that those who marry have a far greater chance of survival as a couple than those who cohabit.

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