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Number of divorces, annuments down while marriage rate went up last year

SINGAPORE — More people got hitched while fewer people decided to ditch their spouses last year, according to the latest marriage and divorce statistics released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) on Tuesday (July 10).

Singapore saw a spike in registered marriages last year — 28,212 — compared to 2016.

Singapore saw a spike in registered marriages last year — 28,212 — compared to 2016.

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SINGAPORE — More people got hitched while fewer people decided to ditch their spouses last year, according to the latest marriage and divorce statistics released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) on Tuesday (July 10).

Singapore saw a spike in registered marriages last year — 28,212 — compared with 2016. This was an increase of 0.9 per cent from the 27,971 in 2016, which the DOS attributed to an increase in both civil and Muslim marriages.

Graph: Department of Statistics

For men, the general marriage rate rose to 45.7 marriages per thousand unmarried males aged 15 to 49 years last year — up from 44.4 in 2016.

For females, the rate also rose to 42.8 marriages per thousand unmarried females aged 15 to 49 years – up from 41.6 in the same period.

At the same time, fewer marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment last year. The number of marital dissolutions last year —7,578 — was 0.5 per cent lower than the 7,614 marital dissolutions in the previous year. DOS said the dip was due to a decline in Muslim divorces "which more than offset" the slight increase in civil divorces.

Graph: Department of Statistics

The general divorce rate also fell, with Singapore seeing 6.9 male divorcees for every thousand married males aged 20 years and over last year. This was much lower than the rate of 7.1 in 2016.

However, a deeper look into the figures show that people appear to be getting older before deciding to call it quits.

Over the last 10 years, the median age of both men and women at divorce has risen. Currently, it stands at 43.2 years for male divorcees and 39.1 years for female divorcees. In 2007, the median ages for divorce was 39.8 years for males and 36.1 years for females.

DOS pointed out that people are also staying longer in their marriages before they divorce, with the median duration of marriage for divorces rising to 10.3 years last year, up from 9.6 years in 2007.

Graph: Department of Statistics

Specifically, couples who were married for five to nine years accounted for the largest share (30.2 per cent) of all divorces last year.

The median age of first-time grooms has remained relatively stable over the last decade. It fell to 30.0 years last year, after rising from 29.8 years in 2007 to 30.3 years in 2016.

On the other hand, the median age of first-time brides rose from 27.2 years in 2007 to 28.4 years last year, thus "narrowing the gender age gap", said the DOS.

Meanwhile, the proportion of inter-ethnic marriages continue their upward trend, as seen in the last 10 years. Last year, inter-ethnic marriages amounted to 22.1 per cent, or nearly one-quarter of total marriages last year — up from 16.4 per cent in 2007.

Graph: Department of Statistics

Sharing the latest statistics in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee said: "Marriage is a journey that requires commitment from both husband and wife. Earlier this year, I had the honour to witness some 170 couples celebrating their 50th anniversary or beyond at the Golden Jubilee Wedding Celebrations, which was held by the Registry of Marriages. The joy and love in the air was testament that strong and long-lasting marriages are certainly possible, and worth the effort."

While his ministry will continue its work in strengthening marriages, he said it will also provide support to those whose marriages cannot be salvaged. Citing examples such as the Mandatory Parenting Programme for couples before they file for divorce, and the ongoing review of the family justice system, which includes studying how the divorce process can be made less adversarial, he said the interests of the children will always be put at the forefront.

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