Top professionals twice as likely to marry as unskilled workers

Survey reveals ‘marriage chances’ by class which diminish right down economic scale

This is the first time such data looking at the gap in “marriage chances” by class has been brought together in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images

This is the first time such data looking at the gap in “marriage chances” by class has been brought together in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Highly paid proessionals are almost twice as likely to be married as unskilled workers, a report published this morning finds.

Some 65.7 per cent of adults, aged 18-49 in the best off groups, were married at the end of last year, while 31.8 per cent of the same age in the least well off group were married, notes the study, Mind the Gap, published by the Iona Institute Christian think tank.

The report also shows the likelihood of marrying diminishes right down the economic social scale, apart from in the second least well off group, which are described as “process, plant and machine operatives”.

Some 53.6 per cent of adults in this class were married, according to the report which draws on data contained in the Central Statistics Office’s Quarterly National Household Survey from the end of 2015.

This is the first time such data looking at the gap in “marriage chances” by class has been brought together in Ireland. The findings reveal a phenomenon replicated in other western societies. It is an issue which receives much discussion and scrutiny in the United States.

This study maps likelihood of marriage by area, in Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, showing huge variations aligning by levels of prosperity or disadvantage.

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In Dublin marriage rates range from highs of up to 59 per cent in Clontarf and Rathgar/Terenure to as low as 19 per cent in north and south inner city.

Worst chances

In Cork, they range from 60 per cent in Ballinlough, to 17 per cent in Shandon, Gilabbey and South Gate, while Galway adults with the best prospects of marriage are those in Rockbarton, Knockacarragh and Taylor’s Hill where rates are up to 53 per cent. Galwegians with the worst chances are in Nun’s Island and St Nicholas, with rates as low as 19 per cent.

Prof Patricia Casey of the Iona Institute said the inequality in access to marriage were “deeply concerning”. She said those entering marriages had better social and economic prospects, while children in lone parents households were at the greatest risk of poverty.

The Institute said it was publishing the report in the hope of sparking a debate on why some groups were not marrying.

Marriage, she said, was one of the greatest bulwarks against poverty and yet those in poverty had far less access to it.

“Why is it that the better off a person is the more likely they are to be married? Social disadvantage clearly diminishes a person’s chances of marrying and not marrying in turn increases the odds of remaining socially disadvantaged, It’s a vicious circle and one which obviously affects children.”

Irish society had shown it believed the gay and lesbian community should have access to marriage. So too should the poor, said Prof Casey.

The increasing proliferation of low-paid, insecure jobs at the lower end of the economic scale undoubtedly had an impact on people’s sense of their financial ability to enter into marriage, she added.

“There are also disincentives to marry built into the social welfare system . . . It can be more financially advantageous for two people on social welfare to remain single than to marry.”