April 15, 2009 / 11:44 AM / in 8 years

UK couples waiting longer for marriage

<p>A couple are seen silhouetted as they cross London Bridge January 23, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British men are tending to delay marriage until they are in their 30s and more of them are living at home longer, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

Men, on average, were 31.8 years of age when they tied the knot for the first time, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for 2006 showed, compared with 29.3 years 10 years earlier.

Women were also putting off the big day, on average until the age of 29.7 compared with 27.2.

The figures appear in the ONS report “Social Trends.”

The report also shows a record low number of couples married in England and Wales in 2006 -- 237,000, the lowest annual number since 1895.

Couples were also delaying the age at which they had their first child, with women on average being 27.5 years of age in 2007 compared with 23.7 in 1971.

A quarter of households in 2008 were childless couples, while in 1971 it was nearly a fifth (19 percent).

For those couples with children, nearly a third used grandparents as informal childcare providers, where the mother was working.

Signs of the economic downturn hitting home ownership could be seen in the 1 percent fall in numbers between 2006 and 2007, reversing a 49 percent rise in UK home ownership in the 25 years before then.

Britons were more likely to live alone, or with their parents, the report’s figures showed.

Between 1971 and 2008, the proportion of people living alone doubled from six to 12 percent, with the largest increase being among those below state pension age.

The increase in the number of students staying on in higher education, coupled with the rise in the jobless figure, was blamed for more men and women living with their parents until their mid-30s.

Men found it more difficult to break away from their mothers’ apron strings.

Nearly 30 percent of men aged between 20 and 34 and 18 percent of women of the same age lived at home, figures for the second quarter of 2008 showed.

This compared with 27 percent of men and 15 percent of women of the same age group in 2001.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison

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