attitudes to sex and marriage have grown increasingly
liberal over the last two decades, according to a study
released Wednesday. But behavior has changed less than
British Social Attitudes Survey said 70% of people think
premarital sex is acceptable, while less than a third
believe homosexuality is wrong.
In the 1980s,
almost half of Britons surveyed disapproved of premarital
sex and three quarters thought homosexuality was always or
heterosexual married couple is no longer central as a social
norm,'' said Simon Duncan, the report's coauthor.
Researchers said attitudes have been shifting
gradually over the years.
marriage rate is falling, with a corresponding rise in the
number of unmarried people who live together. The 244,710
marriages in England and Wales in 2005 -- the last
year for which figures are available -- was the lowest
number since 1896.
Two thirds of
those surveyed felt there was little difference socially
between being married and living together. Only 28% agreed
with the statement ''Married couples make better
parents than unmarried couples,'' a figure largely
unchanged since the question was first asked in 2000.
Duncan said views
are more traditional when it comes to child-raising.
''When they are involved, alternative family arrangements
are seen as less acceptable,'' he said.
Opinion on single
parents was evenly split, with 42% of people saying one
parent could raise a child as well as two, and 41%
disagreeing. Just under a third of respondents said
two gay men in a couple can be good parents as well as
a man and a woman; 42% disagreed.
Only 17% of men
agreed with the statement ''A man's job is to earn money;
a woman's job is to look after the home and family,'' down
from 32% in 1989.
appears to have changed less than attitudes. More than three
quarters of respondents in heterosexual relationships said
the woman does the laundry, a figure little changed
''People are a
lot more liberal in what they think, but it is still women
doing the same things they did 20 years ago,'' said another
of the researchers, Elizabeth Clery.
Conducted by the
National Center for Social Research, the survey
interviewed 3,300 randomly selected adults across the
country about topics as diverse as politics, the
environment, and racism.
Margins of error
for sections of the report vary between two and three
Thirty percent of
respondents admitted to being biased against other
races, saying they were ''very'' or ''a little'' prejudiced.
That compared to 34% in 1985, but was up from 25% in
2000, a fact researchers said likely reflected the
impact of the September 11 terror attacks.
The vast majority
of those who admitted prejudice said they felt that way
''a little.'' Only 2% said they were ''very prejudiced,'' a
figure unchanged since 1991. (AP)