Now it’s said that marriage is under threat in British society. It was recently revealed that almost half of children are born to unmarried parents; this figure, however, hides a bit of divergence. For the well-off, marriage rates are high, and have stayed high. It’s for those lower down the income scale that family life is changing.
There was no marriage gap between rich and poor a couple of generations ago, but one has been opening up. The Office for National Statistics divides Britain into seven social classes. According to a study prepared for The Spectator, someone in the top class (i.e., company directors, university lecturers, etc) is 48 per cent more likely to be married than someone in the bottom social class (builders, office cleaners). At the turn of the century, the gap was 22 per cent. To those who think marriage is a quaint irrelevance, such figures don’t matter. But if you think that marriage is the most powerful sponsor of health, wealth and education, then it ought to be alarming. A new inequality is being bred in our society. Why?