Family breakdown ‘epidemic’ as couples reject marriage

A growing trend against getting married is fuelling an “epidemic of family breakdown”, according to the Marriage Foundation.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), highlighted by the Daily Express, reveal that cohabiting families now make up 16 per cent of all families with dependent children in the UK.

Responding to the figures, Harry Benson, Research Director at the Marriage Foundation, said that cohabiting is “leaving a trail of devastation in its wake”.

Affecting children

The ONS figures indicate that almost 1.3 million couples are bringing up their children out of wedlock – a 132 per cent rise since 1996.

Mr Benson warned that the move away from marriage is affecting children:

“Couples who aren’t married when their child is born are far less likely to remain together compared to those who marry beforehand.”


He drew attention to Marriage Foundation research which found that six out of eight married couples remain together while bringing up children.

In comparison, only three out of eight unmarried couples who raise children remain together.

If this epidemic of family breakdown isn’t to spread, we desperately need a culture change

Harry Benson

Mr Benson added that half of all teenagers are not living with both of their biological parents.

He said: “If this epidemic of family breakdown isn’t to spread, we desperately need a culture change that re-embraces the importance of parents committing to one another before having children.”


In February, a leading relationship think tank found that family breakdown will cost the taxpayer a staggering £47 billion this year.

The Relationships Foundation’s ‘Cost of Family Failure Index’ calculates annually the economic effects on society as a result of families splitting up.

The 2015 figures showed that there would be a cost of £1,546 to every taxpayer a year, an overall increase of £10 billion when compared to figures released in 2009 (£37 billion).

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