May 15, 2024

Britain is gripped by an epidemic of loneliness – and marriage is the solution.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the think tank founded by former Government minister and Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

Loneliness is almost twice as common among single people compared to married people, according to polling by the CSJ. About 58% of single people report feeling lonely some of the time or often, compared with 30% of married people and 39% of cohabiting people.

The younger generation sees itself as particularly lonely, with 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds agreeing that “my generation is a lonely generation”, compared with 29% of those over 65.

Loneliness is estimated to cost employers £2.5 billion a year. Referrals to mental health services are at record levels amid an unprecedented number of people signed off work, over half of whom (53%) blame ‘depression, bad nerves or anxiety’.

The decline in marriage is partly driving this, the report argues, with the proportion of the adult population who are married dropping below half for the first time this year.

Marriages are more stable than cohabitation, even after taking into account education, ethnicity, household income and ‘relationship happiness’, the report notes, drawing on analysis of official data.

Yet governments remain coy about discussing the importance of marriage in combatting loneliness, or indeed for any other reason.

With a majority of poorer unmarried adults saying the cost of a wedding would put them off getting married, the report recommends that the Government start subsidising weddings to the tune of up to £550, depending on household income.

C4M knows that real marriage is the solution to many of the loneliness and mental health challenges faced by our society. We commend the CSJ report for putting marriage at the top of the agenda, and we call on the Government to do the same.