Married population continues to decline
Population of England and Wales by gender, age and marital status, including marriages abroad, mid-2009
The estimated number of married people in England and Wales was 21.7 million in mid-2009, down 16,000 compared with the previous year. Since 1979 the proportion of people who are married has been slowly declining, from 50 per cent in mid-1979 to 40 per cent in mid-2009. Conversely the proportion of people who are divorced has been slowly rising, from 2 per cent in mid-1979 to 8 per cent in mid-2009.
The proportion of people who are single has risen from 40 per cent in mid-1979 to 47 per cent in mid-2009. The proportion of people who are widowed remained stable throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, but has been slowly declining from 7 per cent in mid-1995 to 6 per cent in mid-2009.
The diagram above is a representation of the age and sex structure of the population, broken down by legal marital status, known as a population pyramid. Each horizontal bar represents a particular single year of age and the length shows the population of that age. The structure of the pyramid is determined by births, deaths and international migration, and the breakdown by marital status is determined by marriages, divorces and deaths.
Towards the top of the pyramid there is a difference between the sexes, where there are more female widows than male widowers. This is true for all ages above 21, and in total there are more than three times as many female widows as male widowers.
According to estimates derived from the International Passenger Survey, the number of residents of England and Wales who travel abroad to marry has increased each year since mid-2004, with the estimate exceeding 90,000 in mid-2009. Estimates of the effects of marriages abroad on marital status estimates were first released on 30 April 2009.
For the period mid-2002 to mid-2009 estimates have shown a net number of 316,000 men and 159,000 women travelling abroad to marry, showing that almost twice as many men travel abroad to get married. Almost 2 per cent of all married people in mid-2009 married abroad.
Source: Office for National Statistics.
Notes: The population pyramid stops at age 89, causing the top of the pyramid to be flat. Estimates of the Very Elderly (those aged 90 and above) by marital status are not available.
Revised mid-year population estimates for mid-2002 to mid-2008 were published on 13 May 2010 and Mid-Year Population Estimates for mid-2009 on 24 June 2010 and can be found here Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.