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Huge change in number of Brits getting married – millions of couples analysed

Brits aren’t exactly wedded to the idea of tying the knot these days, national survey figures reveal.

The number of married couples is down, teen marriages have plunged, and if we do wed we do it when we’re older, according to 30 years of census data – with fewer married people in 2011, when the last census was conducted, than in 1981.

The census is a survey of the populations of England and Wales that takes place every ten years. The information it gathers helps decision makers assess the needs of local communities and plan public services such as healthcare, education and transport links.

As well as creating an accurate picture of people and households, it reveals trends in everything from work to relationships.

There were 22.5 million married people in England and Wales in 2011 – less than half the adult population (49 per cent) – compared with almost two-thirds being married in 1981 (64 per cent). The 2011 number included 104,942 same-sex civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2005.

The census figures show we’ve become far less likely to get wed young: while it was already rare for 16 to 19-year-olds to be married in 1981, the number of married teenagers fell from 109,680 in that year – that’s just 3 per cent of all 16 to 19-year-olds – to 12,205 in 2011, or less than 1 per cent.

The number of married 20- to 24-year-olds fell from 1.2 million (34 per cent of all 20- to 24-year-olds ) to 202,363 (5 per cent), and the number of married 25- to 29-year-olds fell from nearly 3 million (69 per cent of all 25- to 29-year-olds) to 945,145 (25 per cent).

Only the over-65s were more likely to be married in 2011 than they were in 1981 – possibly due to a lower divorce rate. The next census takes place on March 21, and will no doubt reveal more intriguing details of changing habits and customs.