He said the effect could be “linked to the greater stability found within the married sector and, so far as this research is concerned, the even greater stability in families where the marriage preceded the children. “This greater security inevitably feeds through into a person’s ability to fend for him or herself as an adult.” Overall, having married parents meant a child was 23 per cent more likely to go to university, 10 per cent more likely to get married themselves and 16 per cent less likely to receive benefits. The figures were based on analysis of 20,000 adults from the 1958 National Child Development Survey cohort and 1970 British Cohort Study. Middle-class parents who fail to get married are more likely to see their children drop in social status as they get older, a study suggests. Figures show that professional parents who are unmarried are much more likely to have a child who receives state benefits during their lives. And while middle-class children are less likely overall to receive benefits at some point, the effect all but disappears if their parents were not married when they were born. Children of professional parents who were not married had a 53 per cent chance of being on benefits, compared to 37 per cent for those whose parents had married. The report, by pressure group the Marriage Foundation, argues that “the protection of social class only appears to apply to those whose parents were married at the time of their birth.”If their parents were not married, when they were born, ‘rich kids’ are nearly as likely to end up on benefits as ‘poor kids’.”Sir Paul Coleridge, former High Court judge and chairman and founder of the organisation, said “The natural assumption is always that the children of the better off will, by reason of their family wealth, be protected from ever needing state benefits. “But this new research demonstrates that that is simply not the whole story.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.