GB: most children born out of wedlock, it’s the first time – Europe

For the first time in the history of the United Kingdom, more children were born out of wedlock or any other form of registered civil partnership than within one family in 2021. This is according to the latest data processed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) relating to the population of England and Wales (over 90% of the total population of the UK), released to the media today.

Almost 625,000 births were recorded in 2021, with over 320,000 (51.3%) registered by women who were not married or joined in any other type of partnership certified by the authorities. The average age of new mothers has risen from 30.7 to just under 31, while that of fathers remains indicated at 33.7 years, as in 2020.

This is the first time since 1845, when records began to be kept on a national basis, that children born outside of conjugal unions of any kind become the majority. This is a consequence of the decline in marriages celebrated in the UK (similarly to what is happening in other ‘secularised’ Western countries) and of the increase in more or less stable cohabitation phenomena of unofficially registered couples.

The trend is also reflected in other parts of Europe. In France, for example, the number of babies born out of wedlock has increased from 27.9% in 2006 to 40.4% in 2018. In Germany, the figure was 17.2% in 2006, compared to 29.2% in 2018. This shows that the UK is following the same pattern as other countries in Europe when it comes to changing family structures.