While it is heartening to know that the number of divorces in Singapore last year declined by 3.1 per cent from 2017, we need to go beyond the year-on-year fluctuations to examine longer-term underlying patterns of divorce here and its impact on society (Marriages, divorces on the decline, July 31).
Every year since 2007, we have seen more than 7,000 marriages in Singapore end in a divorce or annulment.
Over 50,000 children under the age of 21 were involved in divorce cases from 2005 to 2014 (Protecting children caught in divorce, March 6, 2016).
The lives of thousands of Singaporeans go through significant upheaval every year, and this can continue for years after a divorce is finalised.
This is as much a national, social and economic problem as it is a family one.
According to the World Economic Forum, divorce rates in the United States and the United Kingdom have seen a falling trend over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2016, there was an 18 per cent fall in divorces in the US.
Divorce rates in the UK are also at their lowest since the 1970s. This was largely attributed to reduced rates of divorce among millennials, who are more highly educated and marrying later than earlier generations.
In contrast, it was reported in 2015 that rates of marriage dissolution in Singapore among recent marriage cohorts had risen compared with those in the past.
More than one in four marriages today end up in divorce, the impact of which disproportionately falls on younger Singaporeans.
We need to examine more closely the reasons for the persistently high rates of divorce in Singapore and take concrete steps to reduce this.