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A new report published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has stated that children of married couples progressed further but that this was a reflection of the social and economic breakdown of those people who choose to marry rather than live together.
It says that married parents tend to be higher earning and more stable in their relationships but when these elements were removed, the marital status itself had little bearing on the emotional or sociological development of children. Married parents were twice as likely to have gone to university and more likely to own their own home.
The research was carried out on 10,000 children. The findings are not necessarily surprising. Some of the statistics it quotes are of interest however as a reflection of our changing society.
Over the last 25 years the number of children born to unmarried parents has increased significantly to 30%. Of the married mothers questioned 75% of them said their pregnancy was planned. This was the case for only half of the un-married mothers.
The study concluded that while children of married parents do better socially and emotionally, that this benefit is not directly related to having married parents. Once the ethnic status, educational differences and economic status has been removed there are no longer any statistical differences in the children's standards. This raises the question of whether being married does influence children or whether co-habiting is just as good.
Of course, without getting political, this research could just be a timely response to the suggestion that a marriage tax break would be introduced by parties fighting to win their way into government!