Young married men become a thing of the past as fewer than 58,000 husbands are under the age of 25
- Just 1.7% of men in Britain marry before they are 25, new figures show
- Many more couples are cohabiting, raising the risk that they could split
Young married men have almost disappeared in England and Wales, figures revealed yesterday. There are now fewer than 58,000 married men under 25, official figures show. The proportion of men who marry young has collapsed to 1.7 per cent, marking a profound change in family life since the 1950s.
About 135,000 young women marry annually, figures from the 2011 census, just released by the Office for National Statistics, reveal.
Most of them have found men who have reached their late twenties or older.
These days one in three men in their twenties is still with their parents and the average age at which a young person leaves their childhood home is 26.
However, cohabiting couples break up at least three times more quickly than married couples.
‘In the 70s and 80s it became more acceptable to move in together rather than marry,’ warned Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation.
‘The difficulty is that with more delay in marriage we are seeing a large increase in the rate of family break-up.
‘The good thing about delaying marriage is that it seems to be helping to increase the stability of marriage and contributing to a fall in divorce rates.
‘There has been a drop of a quarter in marriages that end within the first seven years, and a drop of a half in divorce within three years of marriage.’
The foundation says that a child born today has only a 50/50 chance of its parents staying together when it reaches 16.
Average ages at which people marry are now at just under 30 for women and over 30 for men.
Millions of women have decided to delay marriage to pursue higher education and careers. Many then find themselves facing the need to pay a mortgage and the difficulty of forming a stable relationship with a man on which to build a family.
After World War II state housing policies were founded on the need to build council homes for young couples, and in the early 1980s Margaret Thatcher’s government won popularity by making home ownership easier.
For men, the pressure to marry a girlfriend, and the threat of a shotgun marriage if she became pregnant, evaporated decades ago. Few feel any need to marry, even if children come along.
The census figures show that 57,191 men under the age of 25 were married in the spring of 2011 when the census was taken, and 134,605 women.
The men made up 1.7 per cent of a male population aged 16 to 25 in England and Wales of 3,372,665.