Opinion & Debate

Published on December 2nd, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


Co-habiting mums and dads more likely to split than married couples

Research from the Marriage Foundation think-tank has revealed that most family break-ups involve unmarried parents.

The charity’s study found that co-habiting couples are four times as likely to separate than those who are married.

The Daily Mail reports the findings indicated that unmarried couples who live together with children under 16 are ‘now responsible for the majority of family breakdowns’.

The study found that on average 5.3 per cent of co-habiting relationships ended each year from 2009-12. Among married people, the average rate was 1.3 per cent.

The study was part of a £50million state-sponsored research project called the Understanding Society survey. It has compiled information on family life for the past 20 years.

The Marriage Foundation’s Harry Benson said the findings mark ‘a tipping point for society’.

“We have an epidemic of family breakdown because so few people realise how badly the odds of success are stacked against unmarried co-habitees,” he said. “If you’re living together as unmarried parents, you’re four times more likely to split up than married parents.”

“It is frequently said that low income and poor education are the main reasons behind family breakdown. But, if anything, the average income and level in education has improved since the 1980s while family breakdown has doubled.

“We haven’t been getting poorer or less well-educated but we have become less willing to commit to our families.”

He added: “The link between declining numbers of marriages and increasing levels of family breakdown is plain for everyone to see.”

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About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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