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Was life really better in the old days? New census tool shows how marriage, divorce and home ownership has changed

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Have you ever wondered if things were really better in the old days?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been looking at how life has changed in England and Wales between 1961 and 2011.

The data, which has been digitised for the first time, shows that in 1961 almost 7% of homes did not have an inside toilet – but in some areas it was more than half.

The map below shows the percentage of homes that did not have an inside toilet in 1961 including two areas of Norfolk – Mitford and Launditch – where there was no indoor lavatory in 59% of homes.

Here, Sky News looks at the some of the ONS’s other key findings.

Marriage and divorce

The census showed that in 1961, 68% of people aged 16 and over were married, and the divorce rate was 0.8%.

This had dropped to 49% of people married or in a same-sex civil partnership by 2011, with 9% divorced or in a legally dissolved civil partnership.

The proportion of people married was lower in 2011 in almost every local area of England and Wales than 50 years previously.

Widows and widowers were slightly less common in 2011 than in 1961 (7% of people compared with 9%).

Home ownership

The census data also showed that more people owned a home in 2011 than they did 50 years previously.

In England and Wales 42% of people owned their own home in 1961, with this falling to lower than 10% for parts of central London, for example Shoreditch.

By 2011 home ownership had risen to 64% but the lowest home ownership still remained in London.

Aged and rural populations

Increased life expectancy and declining birth rates showed that the population had increased and become older by 2011.

In 97% of areas in England and Wales, the proportion of over 75-year-olds had increased.

The places with the biggest increases in residents aged 75 years and over were mostly in coastal areas of Norfolk and Suffolk. In Hunstanton it increased from 6% to 23%.

New towns such as Milton Keynes and Northampton were the local areas with the largest increases in population in the five decades.

The ONS is currently examining data from the 1921 census and the results from this year’s census will be released next year.