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Same-sex married couples and those in civil partnerships are more likely to be younger, have no religion and have higher-level qualifications than their opposite-sex counterparts, the latest data shows.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also show a continuing trend in people not getting married, with the number of people doing so at the lowest rate on record.
Nearly four in 10 adults in England and Wales have never been married or been in a civil partnership, up from three in 10 at the start of the century.
The percentage has risen steadily over recent decades, from 26.3% in 1991 to 30.1% in 2001 and 34.6% in 2011, reaching 37.9% on the day of the latest census in March 2021.
The proportion of adults in a legally registered partnership has fallen over the same period, down from 58.4% in 1991 to 46.9% by 2021.
The latest data, published on Wednesday, also shows that the long-term increase in the proportion of adults who are divorced or have had a civil partnership dissolved has almost come to a halt – with similar figures for 2011 (9.0%) and 2021 (9.1%).
There has been a sharp rise in the proportion of young adults in England and Wales who have never been married or in a civil partnership – with more than half of women aged 30-34 in this category and 63.8% of men in the same age group.