Married parents twice as likely to stay together as couples in live-in relationships

Telegraph (UK) 23 Sep 2008

Parents in live-in relationships are twice as likely to split up as married couples, according to research into the “concerning” number of children born outside wedlock. An in-depth study claims almost half of babies are now born outside marriage in Britain. It goes on to warn that live-in relationships tend to be much shorter than marriages, and therefore many of these babies will end up being raised by just one parent.

The report, based on an analysis of 10,000 households over 18 years, says there are “long-term negative consequences” for those who grow up with either just a mother or a father. Children in one-parent families do worse at school, are less likely to get good jobs and suffer more health problems, it claims. The research contradicts repeated claims by Labour ministers that there is no ideal household for children to grow up in.

John Ermisch, a Professor of Economics at the University of Essex who analysed the data, said: “The rise in births outside marriage is a real cause for concern. It is primarily attributable to the increase in people’s tendency to cohabit in their first partnership and to have children within these unions. The instability of these unions means, however, than more British children will spend significant parts of their childhood in families with only one parent – and this appears to have long-term negative consequences.”

He said only 35 per cent of cohabiting couples stay together until their children turn 16, compared with 70 per cent of married couples. “Having a child in a cohabiting union is often not indicative of a long-term partnership.”