Number of marriages plunged to lowest since 1838 as Covid wreaked havoc in 2020 – with the rate of unions lower than divorces for the first time EVER
The number of marriages in England and Wales plunged to the lowest level in two centuries as Covid wreaked havoc.
Stark figures have laid bare the impact of the pandemic on weddings in 2020, with the rate below that for divorces for the first time ever.
There were 85,770 marriages, fewer than in any other 12 month period since comparable marriage records began in 1838.
That was down 61 per cent from 2019 when 219,850 unions happened.
The Office for National Statistics said the rate was at its lowest since 1862.
There were 7.4 marriages per 1,000 men not in a legal partnership, compared with 19.1 in 2019.
Stark figures for 2020 have laid bare the impact of the pandemic on weddings, with the rate below that for divorces for the first time ever
The weekly breakdown of marriages showed how far below normal levels they were in 2020
For women there were seven marriages per 1,000, against 17.8 in 2019.
In sharp contrast, there were 8.5 divorces per 1,000 married men and 8.6 per 1,000 married women.
Religious ceremonies also fell to their lowest percentage on record, accounting for 15 per cent of opposite-sex marriages in 2020, down from 18.7 per cent the previous year.
The statistics body acknowledged the time lag in data, saying it is ‘currently only possible to publish final annual marriage statistics around 26 months after the end of the reference year because of delays in the submission of religious marriage entries by the clergy and authorised persons’.
ONS spokeswoman Amanda Sharfman said: ‘Restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have had a marked impact on the number, timing and characteristics of marriages taking place in 2020 compared with previous years.
‘Marriage rates in 2020 have more than halved compared with 2019 and have fallen to their lowest on record. While August is usually the most popular month to marry, in 2020 there was a shift to September and October respectively for opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
‘While divorce proceedings were also impacted by the pandemic, for the first time, marriage rates were lower than divorce rates. Future analysis will show whether there is a rise in marriage rates in 2021 as restrictions were lifted.’
While rates of opposite-sex marriage at all age groups decreased between 2019 and 2020, the biggest fall was for men and women aged between 25 and 29.
For men, rates fell by 66.1 per cent from 28.3 per 1,000 unmarried men in 2019 to 9.6 per 1,000 in 2020, while for women they dropped by 65.7 per cent from 41.4 per 1,000 unmarried women in 2019 to 14.2 per 1,000 in 2020.
The ONS said this could reflect younger couples choosing to wait until coronavirus restrictions had lifted before getting married.
For same-sex marriages, 20 to 24-year-olds had the largest percentage decrease in rates in 2020 for women, while for men it was 40 to 44-year-olds.
Most areas saw overall marriage numbers fall by more than half in 2020, but the largest decreases were in Bedford and Walsall, both on 80.8 per cent.
London saw the greatest proportion (17.7 per cent) of marriages, a change from the previous three years when the greatest proportion was in the South East.
Claire Reid, a partner with Hall Brown Family Law, said the impact of lockdown was clear but the ages of those marrying suggested that while younger people might have postponed, some older people went ahead.
‘Those individuals who might have wanted a big white wedding were forced either to revise their plans or to delay. Many younger couples may well have simply decided to wait.
‘However, some older couples – particularly those who might have been married before – were clearly determined to press on.
‘They may have been more concerned with tying the knot than having a lavish event.’
This heat map shows how the fall was more dramatic in certain parts of the country
Source: Read Full Article