A new study completed by The Marriage Foundation has shown that half of today’s twenty-year-olds will chose never to tie the knot.
The report which used figures collected by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that young people today are far less likely to get married than their parents or grandparents. The figures reported that 47 per cent of women and 48 per cent of men aged 20 will never marry.
Those who do chose to marry now do so much later than previous generations. Today, only 5 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women aged 25 are married.
Getting married in your twenties used to be normal; in 1970, 564,818 men and women aged 25 got married. However, in 2010, just 56,598 men and women aged 25 tied the knot, a fall of 90 per cent.
It has been suggested that one of the reasons why young people are rejecting marriage is that people now move in together at a much younger age. It is now very rare for a couple not to have lived together before they get married. Younger couples in this situation may put off getting married because of the expense; generation rent seem more concerned with putting a roof over their head than having a dream wedding.
Harry Benson, research director for the Marriage Foundation, said: ‘What we’re seeing is the devastating trickle-down effect of the trend away from marriage.
‘At the moment, we have high proportions of parents and grandparents who have got married at some stage and for the most part stayed together.
‘They provide role models for the next generation. They also show what can be gained from making a marriage work in terms of the stability it provides for a family.
‘However, fewer of today’s 40-year-olds will be in a position to demonstrate the positives of a stable household cemented by marriage.
‘Their children’s generation, currently in their twenties, will suffer twofold; first from a higher level of family breakdown when they themselves are young, and secondly from the lack of familiarity with the benefits of marriage as they look to start their own families.’
‘Cohabiting couples account for only 19 per cent of parents but 50 per cent of family breakdown. Among parents who stay together until their children reach 15, a tiny 7 per cent are cohabiting couples,’ he said.
The government also seems concerned about the decline of marriage and the effect it could have on social structures. Last week the Queen announced in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament that the government will be introducing a new tax regime which will allow married couples where one partner pays no income tax to transfer £1,000 of their tax allowance between them, saving them £200 a year.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith commented on the Marriage Foundation’s report, saying: ‘One of the starkest findings of this report is that young people’s aspiration to marry so outstrips achievement.
‘We should respond by asking what stops them from doing so – looking at how we can remove any barriers that currently stand in their way, and ensuring they have the opportunity to realise their aspirations.
‘This government has already funded marriage preparation and relationship education for over 6,000 couples, but there is undoubtedly more to do.
‘I firmly believe in the importance of strong families as the foundation of a healthy society, and that marriage has a powerful role to play in securing the relationship that lies at their heart.
‘We know that stable loving families offer children the best possible start in life, so it is right that this government has taken steps to ensure families have the help and support they need to flourish.
‘From action to reduce the couple penalty left by Labour to the provision of relationship education and the recognition of marriage in the tax system, it is clear that we are unashamedly pro-family.’