Marriage is important, say Brits

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
April 21, 2011, 9:59 PM GMT+0

Marriage should play an important role in British society according to over three-quarters of the British public, our poll has found, although many feel it doesn’t actually hold such a prime position in British society today.

  • 78% believe that marriage should have a an ‘important’ place in British society, with 45% saying it should be very important and 33% decreeing that it should be ‘fairly important’
  • Just 19% feel that it shouldn’t play an important role
  • However, just 23% feel that marriage is accorded the ‘very important’ status they believe it deserves in today’s society
  • 36% feel the role it plays is ‘fairly important’, while 38% say it is not an integral institution anymore

Our findings come in the wake of the ever-approaching royal nuptials next Friday, which many have speculated could help revive the status of marriage in British society.

A report for the Centre for Social Justice recently found that 46% of children are now born outside of wedlock, and the latest Office of National Statistics figures state that in 2009, England and Wales saw the lowest number of nuptials since 1895, while Scottish marriages fell by nearly 5% between 2008 and 2009.

However, along with Prince William, Labour leader Ed Miliband’s announcement of his engagement to longterm partner Justine Thornton, and the ‘other’ royal wedding, that of Zara Phillips and Mark Tindall, have been billed by some as signs that marriage could be back on the public’s radar. Prime Minister David Cameron is also a well-known advocate of the perceived benefits of marriage for society, and announced plans to introduce tax breaks for married couples in his 2010 election campaign. And despite the apparent respect accorded to marriage among Brits, Cameron’s proposals faced severe criticism from many sides, corroborating with our results that getting hitched may not be a major priority for a significant minority of Brits.

See the survey details and full results here