The statistics for 1993 - published by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys - provided more evidence that people are giving wedded bliss a miss.
They showed that last year the number of marriages fell below 300,000 (to 299,000) for the first time in 40 years and were 4 per cent down on 1992. Divorces rose to 165,000 in 1993, the highest number recorded for a single year and a 3 per cent rise on 1992.
Babies born outside marriage rose to 32 per cent of all births - a 1 per cent rise on 1992 and 13 per cent higher than a decade ago.
And the proportion of unmarried mothers still in their teens went from 47 per cent to 85 per cent over the last decade, according to the statistics, which are published in a new OPCS monthly newsletter.