Summary of important quality information you need to know before using these data

The Population by marital status and living arrangements Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) PDF linked to from this page contains further information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data
  • the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data, how it compares with related data
  • uses and users
  • how the output was created

Important points about Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements data

  • In 2015 the estimates were published for the first time using a new methodology.
  • Estimates for 2002 to 2010 have been produced using both the old and the new method and compared; the largest differences were seen in the divorced population in 2006, which changed by around 17% for males.
  • Those aged under 16 are all considered to be single in line with the legal age of marriage in England and Wales.
  • They do not provide an estimate of the population who are ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT).
  • They provide estimates of the resident population who are legally single (never married or civil partnered), married, civil partnered, widowed or divorced, and also give estimates of the cohabiting population.
  • Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements are published annually by sex and by age groups for England and Wales combined.
  • The mid-year population estimates by marital status and living arrangements are the official set for England and Wales.

Overview

Annual population estimates by marital status and living arrangements are published approximately 13 months after the mid-year of the reference year and are usually published in July.

Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements use the April to June quarter of the Labour Force Survey, household dataset, each year as this includes the mid-year point (30 June).

They are calculated by taking the legal marital status and living arrangement distributions from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and applying them to the mid-year population estimates (by 5-year age groups and by sex) for England and Wales. The LFS is a quarterly social survey of the resident population in private households in the UK.

Historical estimates of marital status only are available from 1971 to 2010 but these were produced using a different methodology. Estimates for the years 2002 to 2010 have been compared using the old and the new method. For example, the largest differences were seen in the divorced population in 2006, which changed by around 17% for males. A spreadsheet has been provided to demonstrate the effect on the estimates of changing the methodology.

The population estimates by marital status and living arrangements are used as denominators for other ONS outputs, such as rates for births within marriage, re- marriage rates and divorce rates. Previously marital status estimates were used in the ad hoc population projections by marital status. These estimates are also used by other government departments, local government, private sector businesses, special interest groups, academia and the general public.