Sharp drop in proportion of marriages involving under-21s

Those who work with young people say that the young today are more mindful and savvy in using contraception and hence, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies and shotgun marriages.
Those who work with young people say that the young today are more mindful and savvy in using contraception and hence, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies and shotgun marriages.PHOTO: ST FILE

Significantly fewer youth under the age of 21 are getting hitched.

Last year, only 1.1 per cent of all marriages involved at least one person below the age of 21, down from 3.9 per cent in 2008.

Specifically, the proportion of Muslim marriages involving minors fell sharply from 8.6 per cent in 2008 to 2.9 per cent last year.

The share of non-Muslim marriages involving at least one person below the age of 21 also fell from 2.9 per cent in 2008 to 0.6 per cent last year.

Those who work with young people say that many of them are now more mindful of using contraception, leading to fewer unplanned pregnancies and shotgun marriages.

Ms Lena Teo, deputy director of therapy and mental wellness at Care Singapore, which helps at-risk youth, said that unplanned pregnancies can push young couples into marriage. "They feel that they have to take responsibility for the pregnancy."

She pointed out that the number of births to teenagers has also fallen sharply in the past decade.

 
 

There were 289 babies born to teenagers aged 19 and under last year - a sharp fall from the 678 born to teen mums in 2009, according to the Report on Registration of Births and Deaths 2018. The report is published by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

In October 2016, the Government introduced a mandatory marriage preparation course for couples where at least one party is below the age of 21, which the couple needs to complete before being issued a marriage licence. Their parents must also consent to the marriage.

There is also a higher likelihood of divorce among couples who marry at a very young age than among those who wed when they are older.

Those who work with young people say that many of them today are more mindful of using contraception, leading to fewer unplanned pregnancies and shotgun marriages.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Sharp drop in proportion of marriages involving under-21s'. Print Edition | Subscribe