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19 November 2014

ONS data shows marriage becoming 'preserve of the wealthy'

Marriage is rapidly becoming the preserve of the wealthy, twice as common among those safely in the top tax bracket as among the least well-off, reports The Telegraph.

Since 2001 those in the top social class, which includes company directors, military officers and university lecturers, have gone from being 24 per cent more likely to be married to 50 per cent more likely, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

By the time they have children, nine in 10 of the wealthiest Britons are married. However, for those on the minimum wage or less, the figure is about half.

Last night Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice said: “Marriage has become a preserve of the better off. That means we have much less stability throughout the population.

“We have had a benefits system which says not just don’t get married, but don’t bother getting together.

“You are better off financially if you live apart. The cost of getting married is also putting people off having a wedding.”

He said parents are children are now more likely to be co-habiting than married, which led to less stability and meant children in those relationships were less able to flourish."

Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator, which obtained the latest figures, said that half of British babies were now born to unmarried parents.

“A marriage gap that barely existed a generation or two ago has managed to double in the last decade with a minimum of public debate. Somehow marriage, with all the advantages that it confers, is becoming the preserve of the rich,” he writes.

The ONS divides workers into seven social categories.

At the bottom comes “routine occupations” such as cleaners, builders and waiters. There is also an eighth category for the long-term unemployed.