Condition as to Marriage, or Civil Condition

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According to the returns the number of husbands in the population was 4,376,898, the number of wives was 4,437,962. The wives, therefore, outnumbered the husbands by 61,064. This excess represents those wives whose husbands were out of the country, with probably some intermixture of women who, though they returned themselves as wives, had no strict title to that designation.

Fertility of wives

Of the enumerated wives 2,943,186 had not completed their 45th year, which, disregarding occasional exceptions, we may consider to be the limit of the reproductive period in women. The average annual number of legitimate births registered in the three years 1880, 1881, 1882, was 841,851, so that the average annual fertility of wives of reproductive ages was in the proportion of 286 births to 1,000 wives. The returns for 1871, when dealt with on the same method, give an annual fertility of 292 births to 1,000 wives, that is, give practically an identical result. We may therefore assume with much confidence that the proportion mentioned represents with close accuracy the annual fertility of wives in this country.

Illegitimate unions

The women of reproductive ages, 15 to 45 years, were divided in 1881 into unmarried, wives, and widows in the following proportions: unmarried, 2,865,253; wives, 2,943,186 widows, 181,178. The unmarried and the widows together numbered 3,046,431. Now the average annual number of illegitimate births registered in the three years 1880, 1881,1882, was 42,916; and, if we assume that the illegitimate unions are on the average neither more nor less productive than the legitimate unions, the total number of unmarried women and widows under 45 years of age, who were living in illegitimate union, would be 150,056, or one woman in 20 of corresponding age and condition.

Probably, however, the above assumption is not correct. It is very likely that among the women who contract illegitimate unions there is a larger proportion of young women than among wives of reproductive ages; and, if this be the case, the average fertility of illegitimate would be higher than that of legitimate unions. This would to some extent reduce our estimate of 150,056.

Proportion of married to adult population

The proportion of married persons to the adult population (15 and upwards) Proportion of declined, though not very considerably, in the interval between the censuses of 1871 married to and 1881. In the case of the husbands the decline in the proportion was 0.98 per cent.; in the case of the wives it was 1.14 per cent. The decline in the proportions of the married was almost entirely confined to the earlier periods of life; among males affecting exclusively, and among females affecting mainly, those who were under 25 years of age. (see Appendix A., Table 23.)

The falling off in the proportion of married, persons to the adult population was not due to any unusual mortality among this class, for had it been so there would have been an increase in the proportion of widowers and of widows; whereas, in fact, the contrary was the case, and the proportion of both showed a decline, though in the case of the widows the decline was very slight. (see Appendix A., Table 22.)The true explanation is furnished by the fall in the annual marriage-rate, which, having the census of 1871, the fell to 15.3 in the quinquennium ending with 1880. It is true. That if we take the entire decades instead of their second quinquennia, the difference in the rates was not quite so great. But even then the difference was considerable, the rate for 1861-70 having been 16.6, while for 1871-80 it was 16.2.

Relative ages of husbands and wives

The average age (1871-80) of men when they marry or re-marry is 27.9 years, the average age of the women is 25.7 years. But the average age of all the enumerated husbands was 43.1, and that of all the enumerated wives was 40.7. The difference between the ages of the husband and wife had thus apparently increased from 2.2 to 2.4 years.

This seems strange; for the natural expectation would have been that, the very opposite change would occur, and that the mean ages of husbands and wives would have become nearer than have diverged more widely. For those marriages which would have been earliest dissolved by the death of one of the pair would, speaking generally, have been those in which one of the couple was much older than the other; so that the marriages with wide range age-divergence would, on the whole, be more rapidly eliminated from the reckoning that the marriages between persons of more equal ages. The only explanation of the apparent inconsistence which we can suggest is the fact, of which, indeed, there is abundant other proof, that woman who marry are under increases as they become older. The great majority of woman who marry are under 25 years of age at the time of marriage, and have no temptation at the period of life to understate their age. But as they become older this propensity develops itself.

Proportions of unmarried in different counties

The relative proportions of married and unmarried persons in the population varied much in different parts. To examine into these variations in a satisfactory manner would require very extensive study of county peculiarities. A cursory examination ion however, of the tables in which the proportions are given for each county shown that in milliner parts, such as Durham, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire, lo winch large numbers of young men are attracted from without, the proportion of unmarried males is high.; whereas, in the absence of any special occupation for unmarried females proportion of these is low. The proportion of unmarried female is also low as a general rule, in purely agricultural counties, such as Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk or Lincolnshire, owing to the migration of young women into counties where there is a greater demand for domestic servants; such counties, for instance, as Sussex with its watering places, or the suburban parts of the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, which thus come to have a high ratio of unmarried amongst their female population. (see Appendix A,, Tables 25 and 32.)

Difference between town and country districts as regards conjugal condition

There does not appear to be much difference between urban and rural populations as regards their conjugal or civil condition. The proportions of married and of un-married, whether males or females, are pretty nearly the same in both, This at least, is the case if we take the entire population, without distinction of age. But if, instead of so doing, we break up the populations into age-groups, and see how many married there are in proportion to the number living in each of such age-groups, we find some points of contrast between town and country. In the towns there is a higher pro- portion of married, both males and females, in the earlier age-periods, probably because wages are higher in the towns, and marriages are consequently contracted at an earlier time of life; whereas in the later age-periods the proportion of married is higher in the country than in the town, the differences at these later age-periods being chiefly, though not entirely, due to the excessive numbers of widowers and widows living in the town as compared with the country. Why the widowed should be in such high proportion in the towns is not very apparent. In part it is probably a necessary accompaniment of the earlier marriages; in part due to the considerably higher death- rate of the towns; and partly, perhaps, it may be attributable to the social life of towns being- more congenial and better suited to widowers and widows than the retirement and solitude of the country. Be the explanation what it may, the following table shows that the proportion of widowed persons is higher in the town than in the country at every age-period:—

The NUMBERS UNMARRIED, MARRIED, and WIDOWED to 1,000 persons enumerated at each GROUP of AGES in URBAN and RURAL DISTRICTS respectively.

Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural
All Ages 612 613 337 349 31 38 586 588 333 334 81 78 All Ages
0— 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 0—
15— 994 997 6 3 0 0 970 983 30 17 15—
20— 757 787 241 211 2 2 648 703 347 294 5 3 20—
25— 307 307 678 680 15 13 286 319 683 659 31 22 25—
35— 129 132 832 837 39 31 151 171 749 760 100 69 35—
45— 87 92 835 846 78 62 119 128 670 733 211 139 45—
55— 73 77 733 804 154 119 112 113 509 632 379 255 55—
65 and
69 66 579 615 352 319 116 98 253 368 631 534 65 and
Note.—The proportions in this table for urban districts relate to London an the 46 urban sanitary districts with populations above 50,000; the rural districts are represented by the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Registration Divisions, exclusive of the principal towns.

1 The tables relating to Conjugal Condition are in Vol. III., which has an index at p.526. The Conjugal Condition is given for Registration Divisions, Counties, and Districts, and for the large Urban Sanitary Districts, in Tables 7, 8, and 9 of each Divisional Part.

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