A new report by the Marriage Foundation analysed data relating to 3,800 children from the ages of 11 to 16

Children with married parents show a higher level of self-esteem than those from other types of family, including stable co-habiting relationships, according to a new study.

The study was carried out by the Marriage Foundation, whose mission is to be “a national champion for marriage”. It was set up in 2014 by retired High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge.

Harry Benson, research director of the Marriage Foundation, and Dr Spencer James of Brigham Young University in America, analysed data taken from the British Household Panel Survey.

Examining data relating to 3,800 children from 11 to 16 they found that those from families with married parents showed higher self-esteem than those from single families or whose parents were co-habiting.

Boys with married parents were in the 57th percentile for self-esteem, compared to boys with co-habiting parents who were in the 51th percentile. Girls with married parents were in the 43rd percentile , and those with co-habiting parents in the 38th percentile.

Sir Paul said: “Not only is a married couple more likely to save their child from undergoing the trauma of family breakdown, we now have evidence that parent’s public declaration of commitment to each other significantly alters a child’s self-perception and self-esteem.”

He concluded: “It is not being moralistic or judgmental to say marriage works best for families – it is a statement of fact.

“The trend away from marriage beginning in the 1980s has coincided with a meteoric rise in family breakdown.

“Unless the Government gets serious about tackling this epidemic now, more and more children will see their lives torn apart.”

Last May Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said: “The latest research undertaken in our county by the Marriage Foundation makes disturbing reading. Report after report high-lights the trend away from marriage and the enormous human cost for couples and, above all, for children.

“It can seem that the Christian vision of marriage marked by life-long commitment; chaste love and openness to the gift of children is rapidly becoming a counter-cultural life-style in societies such as our own.”