Marriage rate continues its revival
Number of unmarried couples cohabiting in the UK has doubled since 1996
The latest statistics on the marriage rate – provisional figures released by the Office for National Statistics for 2011 – show that in that year the number of marriages in England and Wales increased by 1.7% to 247,890, from 243,808 in 2010.
In 2011, the male marriage rate remained at 22.0 marriages per thousand unmarried men aged 16 and over. For women the rate decreased to 19.8 per thousand unmarried women aged 16 and over, from 20.0 in 2010. The greatest number of marriages were for men and women aged 25 to 29.
Civil ceremonies accounted for 70% of all marriages that took place in 2011, an increase from 64% in 2001.
Statistics showing trends in civil and religious marriage from 1996 to 2011 indicate that in 1994, the earliest date for which figures are available, 75% of couples marrying in a civil ceremony lived together before getting married. This percentage increased steadily to 88% in 2011.
A lower percentage of couples having a religious marriage cohabited before marrying for all years. However the gap has narrowed over time. In 1994, 41% of couples having a religious ceremony lived together before marriage, almost doubling to 78% in 2011.
Other statistics show that the number of couples cohabiting in the UK has doubled since 1996, illustrating that cohabitation is now more common, both as a precursor and an alternative to marriage.