A new study has claimed that the UK has one of the highest rates of family instability in the developed world.

According to pro-marriage think tank Marriage Foundation, the study shows that three in five (62%) British children born to unmarried parents who are living together experience family breakdown before they hit their teens.

In contrast, only 45% per cent of American children, 15% per cent of Belgian children and six per cent of Spanish children born to cohabiting parents undergo the same seismic shift in their family dynamic by the age of 12.

Almost without exception across the world, cohabiting couples are more unstable than married couples, even when they have children, says Marriage Foundation. In the UK, children born to cohabiting parents are 94% more likely to see their parents break up before age 12, compared to children born to married parents.

“We know that children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers,” explained Bradford Wilcox, Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia and co-author of the report. “This study provides fresh evidence that cohabitation is less likely to deliver such family stability to children, compared to marriage.”

“This research is yet further justification for continuing to champion marriage over all other arrangements leading to the birth and upbringing of children,” added Sir Paul Coleridge, chairman and founder of Marriage Foundation. “Across the globe the children of married couples fare best.”

“This is not because married parents, in some unspecified way, are more skilful as parents but because married parents are more much more likely to be stable as a couple,” he said. “Stability is the name of the game; stability in a child’s life is the number one key factor over all others.”

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