User need for: Estimates of the population in marriages between same-sex couples.

Closed 24 Oct 2017

Opened 3 Oct 2017

Feedback updated 16 Jan 2018

We asked

ONS currently produces population estimates by marital status and living arrangements for England and Wales. Where possible an estimate of the population who are in a marriage between same-sex couples is provided separately. This is currently a number, not available by age or sex because of very small estimates of this population. Throughout the majority of the publication the population who are in a marriage between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are presented together as a total married population.

ONS were keen to learn whether the provision of a separate estimate of the population who are in a marriage between same-sex couples is meeting user need, allowing us to gain a better understanding of who uses these estimates and how they are being used.

The consultation questions were specifically aimed at gathering user need about the number (stock) of people by marital status living in England and Wales not the number of marriages being formed in England and Wales (flow), which ONS has asked users about in the past.

You said

We are grateful to everyone who took time to respond to the consultation. There were a total of 354 responses received from a variety of organisations and individuals that monitor, formulate or influence policy and plan services both at the national and local level. We also received responses from academics, charities and religious groups. A full list of organisations that responded can be found in Annex A. The feedback we received is very valuable to us and has helped us to better understand our users and their data requirements.

The key points to note from the responses to the consultation are:

  • 99.4% of respondents require estimates of the population who are married to be presented separately for same-sex couples and for opposite-sex couples.
  • The majority (71.8%) of responses came from individuals; the next largest group of responses (16.1%) came from religious or church groups.
  • Respondents require estimates of the married population to be separate to allow:
    • Analysis of family and relationship trends and diversity
    • Calculation of divorce rates which allows analysis of the differences in length of marriage
    • Equalities monitoring
    • Provision of a comprehensive picture of the resident population
    • Informed service provision
    • Monitoring of physical/ mental health and wellbeing outcomes
    • Support of evidence based policy making
    • Understanding of the impact and effect of the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
    • Historical and international comparisons of the population who are in a marriage between opposite sex couples.   

We did

As a result of this consultation, we:

  • Have a better understanding of user need which allows us to make informed decisions about marital status data collection in the future.
  • Will continue to provide separate estimates of the population who are in a marriage between same-sex couples and in a marriage between opposite-sex couples where possible.
  • Will continue to monitor these data to see whether we can provide more detailed estimates in the future which could be of more use to our users.

Results updated 16 Jan 2018



This consulation is to assess the user need for estimates of the population who are in a marriage between same-sex couples, specifically whether separate estimates from the total married population are required for analysis.


  • Researchers


  • Population
  • Formal consultations