Majority of babies born out of wedlock

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MORE than six in every 10 babies born in St Helens, were to unmarried parents according to the latest government figures.

A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 63.8 per cent of all babies born in the town in 2011 were born outside of marriage or a civil partnership.

This figure is far higher than the Greater Merseyside average of 51.3 per cent and it is predicted that this figure will continue to rise in the future.

In St Helens, there were 2,083 births in 2011, of which 1,331 were born outside of marriage.

The ONS explained that the change was due to a combination of socio-economic factors that encourage women to postpone childbirth.

“These trends reflect the increasing numbers of women delaying childbearing to later ages,” they said.

“This may be due to a number of factors such as increased participation in higher education, increased female participation in the labour force, the increasing importance of a career, the rising opportunity costs of childbearing, labour market uncertainty, housing factors and instability of partnership.”

Nationally, the proportion of children born out of wedlock rose in 2012 for the 40th consecutive year to 47.5 per cent. By 2016 it is expected to rise to more than 50 per cent.

One former children’s minister called on the government to tackle family breakdown by supporting marriage.

Tim Loughton told the Daily Telegraph without marriage, people “drift in and out of relationships very easily”.

“The government needs to send a very clear message that it supports marriage. That’s why married tax breaks are so important.”