Recent marriage cohorts and younger grooms have higher marriage dissolution rates

SINGAPORE - The rate of marriage dissolutions - annulments or divorces - is higher among recent marriage cohorts and younger grooms but lower among recent Muslim marriages, a recent study has found.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), supported by the Department of Statistics, studied the stability of resident marriages over time and across different marriage cohorts from 1987 to 2012.

It released the report on Monday, which showed three main findings:

1) Marriage dissolution rates among recent marriage cohorts have increased compared to those in the past.

Among those who married in 2003, 16.1 per cent had their marriage dissolved by the 10th year of marriage compared to 8.7 per cent for the 1987 cohort. By the 15th year of marriage, 20.3 per cent of the 1998 cohort had their marriage dissolved compared to 12.3 per cent of the 1987 cohort.

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2) There are more dissolved marriages among younger grooms aged 20 to 24. Divorce rates for younger grooms are twice as high compared to those aged 25 years and older for non-Muslim marriages, and 1.5 times higher for Muslim marriages.

For the 1998 cohort, for instance, a third of non-Muslim marriages involving younger grooms ended in divorce before their 15th anniversary. The figure was 39.1 per cent for Muslim marriages in that same cohort.

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3) For recent Muslim marriages, divorce rates before the 5th year of marriage fell.

These divorce rates decreased from 14 per cent for the 2003 marriage cohort to 11.4 per cent for the 2008 marriage cohort. The improvement may be due to community initiatives in marriage preparation, enrichment and counselling for Muslim couples, said the MSF.

Since the Marriage Counselling Programme for Muslim marriages began in 2004, more than 27,000 referrals were made and 44 per cent of couples in the programme decided not to proceed with divorce.

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MSF said it will step up outreach efforts to couples who have higher risks of divorce. It will roll out a new marriage preparation programme called Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme (PREP) from May.

The programme lasts 12 hours and is a more comprehensive version of the free two-hour "Introduction to PREP" launched in December last year.