For the first time since records began, a majority of babies were born out of wedlock in England and Wales in 2021.
However, the figures came with one proviso: the period coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown, when weddings and civil partnership ceremonies were not allowed.
There were 624,828 live births registered in England and Wales in 2021, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This includes 320,713 live births to women who were not married or in a civil partnership when they delivered – 51.3% of the total – compared to 304,115 live births to parents who were married or civilly partnered.
It is the first time this occurred since counting such statistics began in 1845.
Dr James Tucker, head of health analysis at the ONS, said the figures followed a “long-term trend of declining marriage rates and increasing numbers of cohabiting couples seen in recent decades”.
The fertility rate last year was 1.61 children per woman in 2021, well below the replacement level of 2.1.
However, the 2021 rate still remained below that of 2019.