Northern Ireland news

Professionals twice as likely as unskilled workers to be married in north

A report by The Iona Institute has suggested that many couples in the north are too poor to tie the knot
Marie Louise McConville

PEOPLE in professional occupations are almost twice as likely as unskilled workers to be married in Northern Ireland.

A new report by The Iona Institute suggests that many couples in the north are too poor to tie the knot.

Mind the Gap: Marriage and Family by Social Class in Northern Ireland draws from figures from the NI Statistics and Research Agency.

They show that almost 61 per cent of `upper professional workers' aged 18-49 are married, compared with just a third of `unskilled or elementary workers'.

Tracy Harkin from the Iona Institute said a "key factor driving down the odds of marrying for those who are most socially disadvantaged is poorly paid insecure jobs".

"People are less likely to marry if they feel financially insecure," she said.

"There are also disincentives to marry built into the social welfare system. It can be more financially advantageous for two people on social welfare to remain single than to marry.

"We ought to be able to agree that the big marriage divide which exists between the social classes is a matter of grave concern, something that must be tackled by our politicians, other policy-makers and opinion-formers".

She added: "This is an issue of justice and of equality and cries out for public debate that will, hopefully, help us all to work to close the marriage gap between the poor and the better off in Northern Ireland".

The Iona Institute lobbies on issues around marriage and religion and is headed up by commentator David Quinn.

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