Marriage is in sharp decline among the working classes but on the rise among high income earners, new analysis has revealed.

The proportion of people in the highest social class who are married has increased to more than two-thirds in the past ten years.

It marks a reverse of an earlier decline in marriage rates. But among those defined as working class fewer than 45 per cent are married.

The figures were prepared for The Sunday Times by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Anastasia de Waal, deputy director of think-tank Civitas, said the analysis showed a clear class divide which needed studying.

She said lower economic groups might be avoiding marriage because they were not economically secure enough to commit, rather than because of principled reasons.

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By Amanda Williams, Daily Mail, 24 February 2013