Married couples will soon be outnumbered by people who have never married, according to official forecasts. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) claims that, within 20 years the decline in marriage, which began in the 1980s, will result in more people remaining unmarried than married.
Last year, the numbers of married people fell to less than half the adult population and marriage trends suggest that within a generation most of the population will either be cohabiting or living alone. At present, there are around 21.7 million husbands and wives in England and Wales, compared with 14.9 million adults who have not married at any stage of their lives.
Some four million people are divorcees and three million are widowed. But by 2031, the ONS forecast says that the ranks of the never-married will swell to 22.1 million – 42 per cent of the adult population – and more than the 21.6 million total of the married. The married population will amount to 41 per cent of all adults, down from 49 per cent now.
The ONS expects marriage, if it follows present trends, to go into even steeper decline after 2031. The forecast means that millions of young people are heading for a life of middle-aged loneliness. Not for nothing did God say in Genesis 2:18: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a help meet for him’.
The figures say the number of people who cohabit will rise from 4.5 million to 7.4 million over the next 20 years. Cohabitation has increased because of many influences, including growing social acceptability and unqualified state approval of unmarried partnerships. However, the Lord warns, ‘Flee sexual immorality’ (1 Corinthians 6:18).