Teenagers are falling out of love with the idea of marriage, with shock new figures indicating that only about half of them will ever walk down the aisle.
Research by think-tank the Marriage Foundation predicts that just 57 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys currently aged 13 to 18 will become a wife or a husband later in life.
The figures, obtained from Office of National Statistics data, represent an astonishingly steep decline from previous generations. Among people now in their 60s, 91 per cent of women and 86 per cent of men have chosen marriage.
Research by think-tank the Marriage Foundation predicts that just 57 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys currently aged 13 to 18 will become a wife or a husband later in life
The study also reveals that current marriage rates among under-25s have plunged virtually to zero, with just eight per cent of women and four per cent of men in that age group getting married.
The figures are in stark contrast to those for the same age bracket back in 1970 – then, 81 per cent of women under 25 and 62 per cent of men had married.
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that the authorities must act. He said: ‘The Government should be putting more money into marriage education. Teaching young people about relationships should be more than just giving them facts about sex. We should also be recognising marriage in a more favourable tax structure.’
And experts warned that the trend puts young people on the road to broken relationships, as cohabiting couples are more likely to split than those who have married.
The founder of the Marriage Foundation, former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge, said: ‘Teenagers have bought into the myth that informal cohabitation delivers the same long-term security for their families, when that arrangement is three times more likely to end before their children become teenagers.’
Current marriage rates among under-25s have plunged virtually to zero, with just eight per cent of women and four per cent of men in that age group getting married
The figures are in stark contrast to those for the same age bracket back in 1970 – then, 81 per cent of women under 25 and 62 per cent of men had married
However Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, a book about Britons born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, claimed the trend was mostly due to practicalities.
She said: ‘In the next five years, the average age of young people moving out of the family home is going to be 28 for females and 31 for males because they cannot afford to leave earlier.
‘If you are still living at home at that age, there isn’t any way you are going to be prioritising the rites of passage of adulthood, which used to be children and marriage.
‘So it’s not that teenagers won’t marry because they are no longer interested in love – it’s more practical and economic reasons.’
The study’s forecasts were calculated by extrapolating from recent trends and projecting them into the future. Yet the findings may come as a disappointment to many teenagers, with different research showing that most still aspire to marry.
A 2018 survey of 14- to 17-year-olds found that only four per cent said that marriage was not part of their future plans.