Just one-in-25 couples who live together are unwed
A NEW international study claims only one-in-25 couples who live together are doing so outside of marriage.
The figures will raise eyebrows about perceptions of the numbers cohabiting as most people would presume the percentage is far higher.
But the prestigious Organisation for OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) research, to be published today, reveals the number cohabiting here is well below the 7pc average across 40 countries.
At the same time, our marriage rate is the same as the international norm -- or 54pc of the adult population.
In comparison, there are fewer married couples in the UK, where 49pc of the adult population has tied the knot. But more couples in the UK are living together outside of marriage.
The numbers cohabiting in the UK stand at 7pc -- the same as Australia, Germany and Mexico, the study shows. It was conducted last year.
The situation is reversed in the US, where marriage is more popular than here.
A total of 59pc of the adult population is married in the US, but just 2pc live with a partner.
Across the population here, 54pc of adults are married, 4pc have a 'domestic partner', and 31pc are single or were never married.
A further 4pc are widowed, 2pc divorced -- which is half the OECD average -- and 3pc are separated.
The study shows the highest marriage rates in the world are in China, where 79pc of adults are married, and India, where just under three-quarters of over-15s are wed.
The lowest marriage rate is in South Africa where just 27pc of adults are married.
Living together is most popular in Sweden, Estonia and Iceland, at 20pc of adults, and least popular in China, India, Japan, Korea and Greece, where the rate is 0pc.
The 'Society at a Glance' study of social trends across the OECD has been released as a new census is being compiled to throw further light on the composition of the population here.
The OECD report said marriage was the most common form of partnership between 2006 and 2009.
"Marriage was particularly common in Japan and Turkey where about two-thirds of people were married," it said.
"The proportion of adults married was low, under 45pc, in France, and particularly low in Chile and Estonia where less than 40pc of adults were married."
The study found that cohabitation was highest among countries with low marriage rates, particularly in the Nordic countries.
It also reveals that most children live with married parents in OECD member countries, which are mainly in western Europe.
However, it found the proportion of children in lone-parent families was particularly high in the US, where more than one in four children lived with just one parent.
Less than one in 10 children were in lone-parent families in Greece, Luxembourg and Spain.