Examine the Reasons for Changes in the Patterns of Marriage and Cohabitation over the Last 40 Years or so.

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Over the last forty years marriage and cohabitation patterns have drastically changed due to various reasons and changes in society. Firstly I will look at the changes in first marriages. In 1951 there were approximately 330,000 first marriages in the UK, whereas in 2009 there were only 190,000. This clearly shows the dramatic decline in first marriages. The reasons for this decrease are due to a change in social norms and a decline in social stigma. It is now socially acceptable to not get married, and lots of individuals choose to concentrate on other aspects of their life such as their career rather than marriage. Woman especially are treated very differently than they were in the 1950s. They now have access to higher education and careers and are not expected to be housewives. In 2004 the UK average ratio of men and woman at university was 51:49 which shows that nearly just as many woman choose to go on to higher education as men. This means that many woman are now financially independent and therefore do not feel under pressure to be married for the financial security. This is very different to before, where it would have been very unusual to not get married. Another reason for the decline in first marriages is due to the costs of getting married. From my own research I discovered that the average amount spent on a wedding is 21,000 which also happens to be the average pay in the UK –meaning that the amount some people earn in a year can be spent on their wedding. With the country currently in a recession and many people on ‘pay freezes’ (meaning that their salaries won’t increase for a period of time due to the government’s or their companies financial difficulties) lots of people simply cannot afford to get married. The amount of divorces has also increased in the UK. From my research I found that in 1970 there were 415,487 marriages in the UK and 58,239
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