The trend away from marriage has resulted in an increase, since 1980, of nearly two million children being born into families going through a breakdown. This is according to research carried out by the Marriage Foundation, the think tank dedicated to building stronger families, which found that this 44% increase in family breakdown corresponded to a 35% decrease (from 88% to 53%) in the proportion of children born to married couples in England and Wales.
Previous research also found that couples who were married before their first child were 76 per cent more likely to stay together, as opposed to 31 per cent of couples who were cohabiting.
Harry Benson, Research Director of Marriage Foundation, commented: “This research supports what we have feared for a long time. As the trend away from marriage continues, more and more children are born into families where the parents’ commitment to one another is unclear or ambiguous.
“While life-long committed cohabiting relationships can of course provide children with all the stability they need, alas they are rare. Cohabiting couples make up only 19 per cent of today’s parents, yet account for half of all family breakdown.
“This means family breakdown should have gone down but, instead, family breakdown has doubled. The only social trend that can plausibly explain this collapse in stability is the move away from marriage.”