Number of over 40s cohabiting increases significantly in last ten years
ONS release analyses 2011 data on marital status
The latest release by the Office for National Statistics from the 2011 Census shows that people aged 40 and over made up a larger proportion of the cohabiting population in 2011 (41%), up from 2001 (31%). The ONS suggests that possible reasons include the increasing number of divorced people and the social acceptability of cohabitation following divorce or instead of marriage.
The new release analyses data on marital status (legal partnership status including marriage and civil partnership) for adults (aged 16 and over) usually resident in England and Wales, noting key changes since 2001.
Living arrangements of those resident in households are also analysed as an alternative to legal partnership status, including those cohabiting who are not in a legal partnership (living arrangements for those living in communal establishments are not recorded). Analyses are summarised at national and local authority levels. Comparisons are made with Scotland, Northern Ireland and other developed countries.
Key facts emerging from the data include:
- The proportions of single and married adults varied little between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Almost half (45 to 48 per cent) were married. The proportion of adults in civil partnerships was highest in England (0.2 per cent), double that of the lowest, Northern Ireland (0.1 per cent).
- The single (never married) category showed the greatest increase in proportion: from 30 per cent (12.5 million) in 2001 to 35 per cent (15.7 million) in 2011 in England and Wales. More people aged 30 to 49 were single, rising from 24 per cent in 2001 to 31 per cent in 2011.
- London had eight of the ten local authorities with the highest proportions of single people in the adult population in 2011; the highest was Islington (60 per cent). These high proportions reflect the younger age structure of London compared to other regions.
- Widowed was the only marital status category to show declines in both number and proportion; from 3.5 million (8.4 per cent) in 2001 to 3.2 million (7.0 per cent) in 2011. This reflects increases in life expectancy.
- More than half of adults living in households in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were living as a couple in 2011, either married or cohabiting. Cohabitation levels were lowest in Northern Ireland (6.2 per cent) and highest in England (11.9 per cent).
- 3.7 per cent (785,000) of married people living in households were not living together as a married couple and did not identify themselves as separated. 82 per cent (640,000) of these were 'living apart together' (married or civil partnered, not separated and not living in a couple), an increase of 71 per cent, from 375,000 in 2001. The remaining 18 per cent (145,000) were cohabiting with another partner (and likely to be separated even though they had not stated this).
- In 2011, 12 per cent (5.3 million) of adults living in households in England and Wales were living as part of a cohabiting couple; this was an increase from 9.8 per cent (4.0 million) in 2001. The age group that saw the largest increase in people cohabiting were those aged 40 to 49 (from 9.3 per cent in 2001 to 14 per cent in 2011).
The release can be accessed here.