Marriages in Singapore see slight dip, while divorces edge up

Couples attending a mass wedding event at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Couples attending a mass wedding event at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Slightly fewer people got married last year compared with the year before, while there was a small increase in divorces.

A total of 27,971 marriages were registered last year, 1.2 per cent lower than in 2015, according to the Statistics on Marriages and Divorces 2016.

It was released by the Singapore Department of Statistics on Tuesday (July 18).

In contrast, 7,614 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment last year, up by 1.2 per cent from 2015.

The general marriage rate - for both unmarried men and women - remained relatively stable since 2014, while the general divorce rate was unchanged from 2015.

People have also been getting married later over the last decade, with the median age at first marriage for grooms edging up from 29.7 years in 2006 to 30.3 years in 2016. For brides, it rose at a faster pace from 27 years to 28.3 years over the same period, resulting in a smaller gender age gap.

This also meant that marriage rates for the younger age groups below 30 years fell over the last 10 years, while those aged 30 years and above generally registered higher marriage rates. The largest increase was observed for the 30 to 34 age group, which was also the peak age group for marrying for males.

Another increase was in the number of inter-ethnic marriages. Last year, 21.5 per cent of total marriages were inter-ethnic, up nearly threefold from 7.6 per cent in 1990. These marriages continued to be more prevalent among Muslim marriages (33.9 per cent) than among civil marriages (18.2 per cent) last year.

In tandem with the ageing population and higher divorce rates for the older population, there was a prominent shift in the age profile of divorcees towards the older age groups over the last decade.

The proportion of divorcees aged 45 and above rose from 31.4 per cent in 2006 to 42.3 per cent in 2016 for males, and from 20 per cent to 28.4 per cent for females.

Correspondingly, the median age for divorce also increased from 2006 to 2016 - from 39.6 years to 42.8 years for men, and 35.7 years to 38.5 years for women.

Wives instituted the majority of civil divorces last year (62.4 per cent),although this proportion was lower than in 2006 (68.6 per cent).

Among civil divorces last year, the top two main reasons for divorce were "unreasonable behaviour" (53.5 per cent) and having "lived apart or separated for three years or more" (42.5 per cent).