Marriages up in Singapore, divorces too
SINGAPORE, July 6 — As policymakers review ways to get more Singaporeans hitched and having babies, the latest statistics showed a rebound in marriage rates after hitting a low in 2010.
Last year, 27,258 marriages were registered – an increase of nearly 12 per cent from the previous year, with one in four comprising one or both partners remarrying, and the rest made up of first-timers.
But the upswing in marriages was accompanied by a rise in divorces and annulments – up 3.6 per cent from 2010 to 7,604 last year, according to the Statistics on Marriages and Divorces report released yesterday.
The trends of later marriages, more inter-ethnic marriages and increase in proportion of divorcees aged 45 and above continued.
The median age of couples marrying for the first time last year inched up – to 30.1 for men last year from 30 in 2010, and to 28 for women from 27.7 in 2010.
Last year, one in five of marriages here were inter-ethnic marriages, up from 13 per cent a decade ago. Of the 3,967 inter-ethnic civil marriages registered last year, half were between Chinese grooms and brides of “others” ethnic group.
Over the past decade, a higher proportion of university-educated brides have also married men with lower qualifications than them.
Together with the rise in remarriages and inter-ethnic marriages, this signals that society is becoming more “understanding” and “progressive”, said sociologist Paulin Straughan of the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The increase in marriages made up of one or both parties remarrying, which registered a 58-per-cent jump from 4,385 in 2001 to 6,943 last year, shows that the “social stigma” against divorce is lifting, said Associate Professor Straughan.
“A marriage is not just about two persons – their families also have to accept. So the fact that such marriages increase in such significant numbers suggests we are perhaps, as a society, more forgiving of divorcees and more understanding.”
As for couples who called it quits last year, those married for between five and nine years made up the largest group for civil and Muslim marriages, followed by those who had been married for at least 20 years in civil marriages. The median marriage duration was 10.5 years.
Over the past decade, however, the biggest jump in number of divorces was seen among those who had been married for 30 years or more (more than doubling from 193 in 2001 to 414 last year), and those who had been married between 10 and 19 years (a 71 per cent spike from 1,352 in 2001 to 2,309 last year).
Asked if long-time married couples needed more help to keep the flame alive, sociologist Tan Ern Ser of the NUS noted that marital counselling and workshops are available, and suggested more work-life balance – a point echoed by Assoc Prof Straughan.
“If I want to spend time with my spouse and cannot because I have to stay back at work, it's not so easy to walk out (of the office) and say marriage is more important than my job,” said Assoc Prof Straughan, who noted career demands peak for some in their 40s.
Assoc Prof Tan said: “I reckon if we think of marriage and family as critical institutions in our society, then we have to provide sufficient resources to support these institutions.” — Today