Marriage is back?

Well, maybe not yet, but there are small but encouraging signs of a genuine uptrend.

The latest figures from Office for National Statistics showed that there were 5% more marriages in England and Wales during 2012 compared to the previous year.

The increase was pretty well spread across the board. There were more first marriages and remarriages, more civil and religious marriages, more young and old marriages.

Oddly, almost all of the increase happened during the first half of the year, coinciding with the launch of the Marriage Foundation. I don’t think we can really claim credit …

For that, I’m guessing I must congratulate Kate and Wills. For this looks like a post-Royal wedding bounce!

Let’s put this into context. Throughout the last fifteen years, the total number of weddings – including an estimate for ‘marriages abroad’ – has been a fairly steady 270,000 to 300,000 per year.

So what’s interesting about these figures is that 2012 was the first year since 1995 when there were more than 300,000 newlyweds. In 2012, 306,000 couples tied the knot. That’s an increase of 11% on the previous year.

Is this the beginning of a new uptrend? It could be. The downtrend may well have bottomed out. But we shall see. Those in the wedding business suggest that bookings are down again this year.

Of course it’s excellent news that more people are getting married. Why marriage matters is simple. Four in six married parents will stay together while they bring up their children. Only one in six unmarried parents will do so.

However it’s going to take many years of upticks to reverse the catastrophic trend away from marriage. This weekend, I released a report that predicts only half of all today’s teenagers will ever get married. The new figures for 2012 don’t affect this prediction at all.

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