Written evidence submitted by Mr SM MacLean [HAB0174]
In 2002 Patricia Morgan, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, published a book that explodes the myth of cohabitation being a permanent stable relationship equal to marriage. As a sociologist specialising in criminology and family policy she examines surveys over a twenty-year period, conducted in nineteen countries including the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, America and the white Commonwealth. Results vary from country to country but generally not to any great extent.
The following are some of the findings that the Committee should take into consideration – not much has changed in human nature over the past 19 years.
Given the above and several other unfavourable comparisons from the research, I am surprised that the government should be considering legal changes that would further encourage this trend. Marriage today has sadly lost the support of government and is neglected and discredited in the media. There is vast ignorance about the meaning, implication and far-reaching effects of cohabitation, for those involved and for the whole of society. Revitalising marriage requires considerable education of society, and the elimination of the anti-marriage bias currently prevalent in school curricula. This government should be encouraging marriage, not discouraging it.