There is an increasing gap in the numbers getting married between the rich and poor, according to pro-marriage think tank Marriage Foundation, which claims 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 under five, Marriage Foundation research has found 87% of those with household incomes over £45,000 are married compared to 24% of those with incomes under £14,000.
Other social indicators such as education and housing status also indicate a stark gap between uptake of marriage for the most privileged and the least.
Only 25% of mothers in social housing were married in 2006, the latest available year of data from the General Household Survey, compared to 72% 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%.
“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,” commented Harry Benson, Research Director of Marriage Foundation.
“Some claim marriage does not matter anymore, so what’s the problem?” he said. “But if it does not matter, why do the rich rush to tie the knot in their droves? It’s because they know the act of getting married – discussing their future then making a public and legal promise to stick together in front of friends and family – changes the dynamic of the relationship, reducing their chances of splitting up.”
“Our previous research has shown that those who marry have a far greater chance of survival as a couple than those who cohabit,” he added. “93% of parents who are still together when their children complete their GCSEs are married.”
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