The proportion of babies born to married couples has reached a new low, making up just over half the total number of births last year.
Though marriage remains the most common family setting for babies, the steady fall since the early 1960s has continued, dropping to 53 per cent last year from 59 per cent a decade before. In 1962, the figure was 93 per cent.
Some 383,189 of all live births in 2012 were within a marriage or civil partnership and 346,485 were outside. The vast majority of children are born to cohabiting couples, however. Around 84 per cent of all babies were registered by parents who were married, in a civil partnership or living together.
Data from the Office for National Statistics also showed that almost half of all births in England and Wales are to mothers aged 30 and over. The figures show that 49 per cent of births in 2012 were to mothers in this age group. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of fathers were also aged 30 and over. The average age of mothers in all categories was 29.8. The average age for first births was 28.1.