Fewer than 50pc of adults in England and Wales are married for the first time since records began, new figures from the Office of National Statistics show.
The ONS reveals that the number of people who are married in England and Wales had fallen from just over half of the population a decade ago to just over 46pc now. This is the first time since the census was founded in 1801 that married couples have been in the minority.
More than 11 million people in England and Wales are single, reflecting the growing number who have chosen not to marry at all.
More than 5 million unmarried people live with partners, compared with 4 million in 2001, while 3.8 million are divorced or separated. More than 150,000 declared themselves to be in civil partnerships.
It showed that the number of those over 16 who declare themselves to be married has dropped to 46.6 per cent.
In the 2001 census the majority of adults were still married, at 50.9pc.
Tory MPs are pressing David Cameron to bring in tax breaks to help married couples.
Last week, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which was founded by former Tory leader and current Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, expressed disappointment at the failure of the Chancellor to do so.
CSJ Managing Director, Christian Guy said that it was disappointing that the Government's pledge had yet to be fulfilled “as it is shown that it would have a positive impact on the incomes of the poorest working households”.
He added that a marriage tax break would “also play a part in tackling the perverse incentives which currently persuade many people on low incomes to reject couple formation and the stability of marriage”.
The ONS report said the percentage that were married fell by between four and six percentage points in all regions except London, where it fell by two percentage points.
The greater stability of marriage in London may be linked to the arrival of high numbers of immigrants who continue to place high value on being married.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court judge who started the Marriage Foundation campaign group to promote the institution, said the decline in the number of married couples was a “worrying” trend likely to lead to more family break-ups. He has previously described the scale of family breakdown as a “complete scandal” and warned that people were “recycling” partners instead of trying to fix their marriages.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “This must be regarded as a worrying development and is all part of the picture which a few weeks ago revealed 50 per cent of children aged 15 were not living with their birth parents.”