It has been suspected for a few years that single Brits were now outnumbering those in wedlock and official figures obtained through the census have now confirmed this as fact. The results show that the last decade has seen the number of people opting not to marry increase by well over 3.5 million.
The 2011 census gathered information from all four nations in the United Kingdom and upon analysis of the data, it became clear that social attitudes towards marriage are changing.
Britain’s population is swelling at the fastest rate since the 1800s – a result of high levels of immigration and a higher birth rate. 10 years ago, 51% of the adult population were married but amid the changes to the social demographic, this figure has dropped by 4%
The last decade has seen a 25% increase in the number of British singletons and with social perceptions of divorce seemingly changing, the number of divorcees has also risen by 20%.
These changes have a marked effect on the practice of family law with family lawyers dealing with a higher volume of divorce cases and disputes between unmarried couples. Other complications have been caused by the 66% increase in foreign born UK residents between 2001 and 2011, with nearly 8 million such residents now in the UK. Family lawyers are therefore working on higher numbers of international divorces, divorce involving foreign nationals and overseas child abduction cases.
There are now nearly 5 million divorcees in the UK with the number of married couples who are separated (but not divorced) also raising by around 20%. A new figure for the census – the number of same-sex civil partners – was reported at nearly 120,000 in 2011. The statistics show that civil partnerships, much like marriages, have an increasingly limited shelf life, as many civil partners consider separation just a few years into their unions. Indeed, the rate of civil partnership dissolution has now caught up with the divorce rate, with 20% more civil partners separating in 2012 than did in 2011.
The census figures have caused real concern for some sociologists given the apparent decline of marriage in recent years. Many suggest that the marriage figures and divorce rate demonstrate growing family breakdown.
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