London: Marriage is in sharp decline among the working classes but rising among high earners, analysis has revealed.
The proportion of people in the highest social class who are married has increased to more than two-thirds in the past ten years.
But among those defined as working class fewer than 45 per cent are married according to the Office for National Statistics.
Anastasia de Waal, of think-tank Civitas, said the analysis showed a clear class divide.
She said lower economic groups might be avoiding marriage because they were not economically secure, rather than because of principled reasons.
The ONS figures reveal that in 2001 64.8 per cent of around four million people in social class one - such as professionals - were married. By last year that had risen to 66.3 per cent of 5.1 million.
But in social class seven - which includes dustmen and cleaners - the figures fell from 52 per cent of 4.3million in 2001, to 44.5 per cent of five million last year.
The Church of England said marriage was the ‘gold standard’ for human relationships.
A spokesman added: “Delay is one reason why marriage appears to be in decline. So far from contemporary society rejecting marriage, it may actually be giving it more elevated position. Rather than falling into it, people today are working towards it.”