Today’s Spectator reports that marriage is becoming the preserve of the rich.
It’s certainly heading that way. New data commissioned from the Office for National Statistics shows that the marriage gap – the difference between those better off vs worse off who are married – has risen from 24% in 2001 to 48% today.
First of all, I need to congratulate Fraser Nelson of the Spectator for asking ONS a question I should have asked myself.
However the reality is worse than he is reporting. I haven’t seen his data, which looks like it comes from the regularly updated Labour Force Survey.
I have data from the 2011 Census which puts the marriage gap quite a bit higher.
- Whereas 52% of ‘higher managerial’ white collar workers (AB) are married, only 29% of ‘semi-skilled or unskilled’ blue collar workers (DE) are married.
- That makes a marriage gap of nearly double.
But when you look only at households with dependent children – which is what piques the interest of policy makers – the gap is bigger still.
- Among white collar workers, 74% of parents are married, compared to 33% among blue collar workers.
- That means that parents in the ‘higher managerial’ bracket are more than twice as likely to be married compared to those in the ‘semi-skilled or unskilled’ bracket.
The chart below shows the gap more clearly. It also shows how the better-off shun cohabitation and how lone parenthood is now the norm among those who earn least.
AB Higher and intermediate managerial/administrative/professional occupations
C1 Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial/administrative/professional occupations
C2 Skilled manual occupations
DE Semi-skilled and unskilled manual occupations; unemployed and lowest grade occupations