Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 09:13 UK

Marriage is 'popular but pricey'

Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly wed
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Marriage is more popular than ever but tying the knot is too expensive for many, a study by the think tank Civitas has concluded.

The Ipsos Mori survey of 1,560 people found 70% of 20-35-year-olds and 79% of people living together hoped to wed.

Report author Anastasia de Waal said its findings proved people wanted to marry and not just live together.

She said costs may deter people from marrying, but that "doesn't mean young people don't want to get married".

The survey found the primary reason given for marrying was to make a commitment.

Despite the desire, the report said, areas with economic breakdown had more cohabiters, while marriage was more common in middle-class areas.

'Positive choice'

"In a time when you don't have to get married, when it's perfectly socially acceptable to cohabit without being married, people are actually choosing it," said Ms de Waal.

"That's hugely significant. In the past, people were marrying because they had to, because there was stigma attached to not being married, particularly if you had children.

"Today, without that, it's a positive choice that most people want."

Putting it off

She said family patterns shown in the last Census and Millennium Cohort Study revealed that marriage was considered beyond the reach of Britain's poorest people.

She added: "Many young people idealise marriage. If they don't find the perfect partner or if their employment or housing situation means they are not in a good position to get married, they are likely to postpone marriage or take it off the cards altogether.

"This has the effect of lowering the marriage rate, but doesn't mean young people don't want to get married.

"Our research shows young people have high ideals but also very practical concerns when it comes to marriage."

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