The proportion of people who believe couples shouldn’t have to get married before having children (35%) is, for the first time, almost the same as the proportion who believe marriage should come first (37%), according to new analysis of NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey.
Back in 1989, seven in ten people (70%) felt that couples should be married if they want to have children, compared with less two in ten (17%) who disagreed.
Older people and people who are religious are more likely to believe that people who want children should marry, however they are still much less likely to hold these views than in the 1980s.
In addition, there has been an increase in recent years in the proportion of people who believe that there is little difference between being married and living together. In 2014, three quarters of people (74%) held this view, compared with two thirds (66%) in 2006.
The survey also revealed that a significant majority (62%) believe that it is just as difficult for unmarried parents to separate as it is for married parents.
“Our views on marriage and relationships have changed a lot in the past 30 years,” commented Ian Simpson, Senior Researcher, NatCen Social Research. “People are more accepting of same-sex marriages, are more accepting of people living together without getting married and are less likely to think that men should go out to work while women stay at home.”
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