Marriages take a dive in England

LONDON - Women are now more likely to have a child - than be married. The latest landmark in the decline of marriage was uncovered yesterday in Social Trends, the annual snapshot of the nation by the Office for National Statistics in England.

LONDON - Women are now more likely to have a child - than be married. The latest landmark in the decline of marriage was uncovered yesterday in Social Trends, the annual snapshot of the nation by the Office for National Statistics in England.

Before this decade, most women in their 20s had married "before" having children.

In the 1970s nearly 80percent of women were married by the age of 25, compared with 25percent now. About 50percent of 25-year-old females in the late 1970s had had a child, compared with 30percent of the women questioned during this decade.

The report also showed that the number of people getting married has dropped to its lowest level since 1895. Only 237000 marriages took place in England and Wales in 2006 and the proportion of people who marry is now lower than when the rate was first calculated in 1862.

Both men and women are leaving marriage until later in life, with the average age of a man marrying for the first time rising from 29 ten years ago to 32 in 2006. For women, the average age of marriage has also increased, from 27 to just under 30, over the past ten years.

The biggest decrease in the numbers marrying was among those aged between 20 and 24, which has fallen from almost a fifth of all marriages to 11percent in ten years.

The report also showed that many women are delaying starting a family until they are older. In 1971 the average age for a woman to have her first child was just under 24. In 2007 it was 27,5.

The survey also noted the number of people living on their own has doubled since 1971.

Nearly seven million people, 12percent of adults, live on their own, with the largest increase among adults of working age. - Reuters

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