The long term effect of marriage on social mobility


marriage, long term effects of marriage, social mobility


• Over the course of a lifetime, British adults were 23 percent more likely to have been to university, 10 percent more likely to have got married and 16 percent less likely ever to have received benefits, if their parents were married at the time of their birth. • Our new analysis is based on combined data from 20,000 adults now aged in their late 40s or 50s who have taken part in either the 1958 National Child Development Study or the 1970 British Cohort Study. • This finding takes into account the social class of their parents when they were aged 16. • There is also a significant advantage in having parents in a higher social class, in terms of higher probability of going to university and of getting married, and lower probability of ever needing benefits. • However the protection against needing benefits only applies specifically to adult children whose parents were originally married. Where the parents were not married, their higher social class appears to have no long term protective influence on their children’s future as adults.

Original Publication Citation

Harry Benson and Spencer L. James. 2018. “The Long Term Effect of Marriage on Social Mobility.” Published with the Marriage Foundation, UK.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Marriage Foundation




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor