LONDON – Over half of babies born to British women this year were born outside of marriage, according to newly released figures.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that marriage among Britons is now at its lowest level since figures were first recorded and is part of a steady decline in marriage among Britons since the 1970s, when less then one in ten children were born outside of marriage. In the 1950s, only one in twenty children were born outside of marriage.
It is expected that by 2012 over half the births in the United Kingdom as a whole will be outside of marriage.
"We should not be surprised because for the last 20 years or more the state has connived with the metropolitan classes to tell everyone that the structure of their family does not matter in bringing up children," Iain Duncan Smith, founder of the Center for Social Justice and a member of the parliament, told the London-based Telegraph newspaper.
"The Government has progressively removed any support for marriage, and the benefit system discriminates against couples who marry. This is a significant social landmark but it is also a very tragic story. People should recognize that what has happened has done more to damage the prospects of children than at any time for more than 100 years."
At this year's Committee of the Rights of the Child's Day of General Discussion in September, Adriana Opromolla, the policy officer for Caritas Europe, told U.N., government and NGO representatives that securing the rights of the child started with putting the family first.
"The development of the child generally begins in the home," said Opromolla.
"Good development requires families to have sufficient means, living standards, and access to services, but also social engagement," she added.
The ONS has also released figures which claim the population of the United Kingdom could reach 71 million by 2031. Migrants to the United Kingdom and their children are projected to account for 69 percent of that growth.