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Modern women marry within same social class

A recent study by think tank IPPR has found that British women and men are choosing to marry partners who are increasingly from the same social class as themselves, despite modern society offering them more choice than ever before.


Historically, women would tend to marry men who were older and in a higher social class than themselves. However, the IPPR study has found that there are now more ‘marrying down’, than ‘marrying up’, with the biggest increase being seen in the number of people who choose to marry within their own social class.

Most women continue to marry partners older than themselves, but fewer are choosing partners just one or two years older and more are now marrying partners three or more years older. The biggest growth has been among women married to men seven or more than years older than themselves, which has almost doubled across the generations. A fifth of the latest generation of married women (born between 1976-1981 and aged 28-33 at the beginning of this decade) are with men seven or more than years older than themselves.

Nick Pearce, IPPR Director, said:

“This new analysis shows how social class has tightened its grip on marriage in Britain. In the post-war period of rising social mobility, men and women were more likely to marry across class lines than they do today. This shift has implications for inequality, as well educated, higher earners marry each other and then pass on the fruits of their combined success to their children.”


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