Britons think the age of marriage should be raised to 18

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
July 05, 2021, 11:12 AM UTC

Less than one in ten think people should be allowed to marry at 16

Before becoming Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid campaigned to ban under-18s from getting married in England and Wales.

Currently, 16 and 17-year olds in England and Wales, can marry with their parents’ permission while in Scotland they can marry at 16 of their own will. However, Sajid Javid believes most of these young unions are "coerced or forced for cultural and religious reasons" and is seeking to end them with legislation.

The new bill will be debated in November, and now Javid has the backing of the government, YouGov polling reveals he also has the support of the general public.

Two in five people (41%) correctly identified that the law as it stands allows marriage at 16, with another 34% incorrectly thinking that marriage was currently restricted to those aged 18 and over.

Further to this, more than half of the public (55%) think that marriage should only become legal at the age of 18, In fact, a greater proportion of people are in favour of raising the age of marriage to 21 (14%) than support keeping it at 16 (8%).

Support for raising the age of marriage to 18 is shared across the political spectrum. Similar proportions Labour (62%) and Conservative supporters (58%) take this view, although Tories are slightly more likely to be favour of increasing the minimum age to 21 (16% versus 11%).

Women (58%) are slightly more likely than men (51%) to want to raise the age of marriage to 18, a pattern also reflected when it comes to increasing the age to 21 (with 17% of women supporting this compared to 11% of men).

See full results here