The Sunday Times: Marshmallow or marriage? The greatest test of a human being


It’s tempting to think of marriage as old-fashioned. Why not just live with someone and be done with it? Yet it survives. All kinds of practical benefits seem associated with being married, writes Alain de Botton

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Tie the knot to boost children’s mental health, couples told


New research by Marriage Foundation shows that marriage significantly improves the self-esteem of teenagers and improves their life chances. Children with parents in a stable long-term cohabiting relationship did not see any benefit.

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Life Gets Under Your Skin
Pubished November, 2012

A plain English guide to research from the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies (UCL) demonstrating how ‘Life gets under your skin’ as part of the Economic and Research Council 2012 Festival of Social Science. "The booklet demonstrates how social policy related to family life, education, employment and welfare can have beneficial effects for the overall health of individuals. It also shows how multi disciplinary, longitudinal research can deliver findings valuable to the individual, society and the economy."

See articles in the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph where the author Professor Mel Bartley is quoted as saying: “Family living arrangements are related to children’s physical health . . . . Children whose parents remain married throughout the early childhood years are less likely to suffer from breathing problems such as asthma, to become overweight, or to be injured in accidents by the time they are five years old than children who have experienced a more unstable family situation.”

Social Justice Outcomes Framework 
Published November, 2012

The government (Office for National Statistics) has announced in the new Social Justice Outcomes Framework that the proportion of children who have a stable family free from breakdown, and the proportion of such families that report a good quality relationship, will be a key indicator. The Framework shows that only 45% of 15-year-olds currently live with both their parents.

the Marriage Foundation commented: At last! You heard it from us first. The case we have long been making is recognised in government policy. At the present rate, half of children born today will not be living with both their parents by the age of 16. This stark and alarming figure, with all the emotional and financial costs that go with it, is why we believed it was essential to set up the Marriage Foundation as a new national institution for marriage. If the government is to achieve its aim of year on year reductions much needs to be done.

Families and Household, 2012
Published November 2012

Two out of three UK families are based on married couples. The publication of the statistical bulletin Families and Households, 2012 by the Office for National Statistics is welcome. Now, for the first time, a series of figures from 1996 to 2012 is available for study and comment. The key finding of this updated national survey is: “In 2012 there were 18.2 million families in the UK. Of these 12.2 million consisted of a married couple with or without children.”

The Marriage Foundation commented: “These figures describe the changing landscape of British families, which includes growth in the number of cohabiting and single parent families. But the headline figure remains that two out of three families in the UK are based around married couples. For all the current, understandable, concern about relationship breakdown and its tragic consequences, we shouldn’t allow false perceptions to obscure the truth that marriage is the choice and desire of most people.”

See report in the Daily Mail.

Maybe 'I Do': Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness
Published October 2012

MF recognises this book as a most excellent addition to the core literature about marriage from this senior Australian MP. Easy to read and authoritative: his 100 pages of footnotes will give confidence to those who want to see the latest research and evidence for themselves. 

"Thousands of social science results indicate that a healthy, stable and happy marriage is an optimal relationship for the psychological, emotional and physical well being of adults and children. Functional families are one of the strongest influences on the growth of human competence, and mental and emotional well being. At a time when marriage and family are under constant siege, Kevin Andrews' thoroughly researched book provides a timely and telling case for making the strengthening of these essential bedrocks of a healthy society a number one priority. Kevin Andrews highlights those factors which social scientists from all over the world believe benefit or detract from marital success, and examines the ways in which individuals, communities and governments can help to create more successful marital unions."

The Changing Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600–2010
Published September 2012

Professor Rebecca Probert of the University of Warwick has published a new study. "This book has three key aims: first, to show how the legal treatment of cohabiting couples has changed over the past four centuries, from punishment as fornicators in the seventeenth century to eventual acceptance as family in the late twentieth; second, to chart how the language used to refer to cohabitation has changed over time and how different terms influenced policy debates and public perceptions; and, third, to estimate the extent of cohabitation in earlier centuries. To achieve this it draws on hundreds of reported and unreported cases as well as legislation, policy papers and debates in Parliament; thousands of newspaper reports and magazine articles; and innovative cohort studies that provide new and more reliable evidence as to the incidence (or rather the rarity) of cohabitation in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. It concludes with a consideration of the relationship between legal regulation and social trends."