Recent research by pro-marriage think-tank Marriage Foundation has revealed that the so-called ‘marriage gap,’ the difference in marriage take up between the poorest and richest households, is a problem throughout Europe.
The marriage gap is widest in the Scandinavian countries, with 75% of the highest earner parents married compared to only 30% of low earners, a difference of 45%.
The Mediterranean countries have the lowest marriage gap, with 53% of low income and 87% of the richest parents married, a difference of only 34%.
The European marriage gap average is 43%.
A previous study by the Institute for Family Studies has shown that where marriage rates are low, family breakdown is high across Europe. Marriage Foundation claims that the marriage gap is one of the main drivers of the cycle of social disadvantage.
“The evidence to show marriage is the greatest guarantor of family stability is now indisputable,” commented Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation. “Here in the UK, of the parents who stay together until their child reaches their fifteenth birthday, 93% are married. Committed, stable cohabiting couples are of course just as good as married ones at raising children, but unfortunately they are fleetingly rare.”
“The whole of Europe needs to wake up to this phenomenon where the poorest are experiencing family breakdown with ever greater frequency, while the rich elite continue to reap the benefits of stable, married life,” he added.
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