Friday, 31 July 2015

Record number of couples said 'I do' last year

Marriages hit five-decade high of 28,407; more available housing may be behind rise
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 30 Jul 2015

Wedding bells rang longer and louder than usual last year with a record 28,407 marriages registered - the highest in the past five decades.

The figure is an 8.2 per cent rise from the year before, and the highest since record-keeping began in 1961.

Meanwhile, divorces and annulments fell by 2.9 per cent to 7,307 last year, according to the report by the Department of Statistics released yesterday.

Commenting, sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: "This could be due to more couples taking marriage preparation seriously and therefore being less likely to divorce."

As for marriages, data showed that even after taking population changes into account, the rate was the highest in at least 10 years .

Changes in housing policies may have played a part. Sociologist Paulin Straughan said: "For many couples, the time to get married is when they get access to housing."

She pointed out that there have been more Housing Board (HDB) flats up for grabs. From 2011 to 2013, there were huge launches of 25,000 to 27,000 Build-To-Order flats each year.

There is also the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme - which allows married couples to rent existing HDB flats while waiting for their new flats to be built.

Associate Professor Straughan said initiatives to promote marriage, such as the Marriage and Parenthood Package, consistently drove home the message that marriage is valued.

Auditor Jasmin Loh, 29, and safety manager Nathaniel Sim, 33, were among the many couples who tied the knot last year. They had dated for about four years.

Ms Loh said the incentives and perks were secondary. She said: "We got married last year mainly because we felt ready to take our relationship to the next level."

Many are getting hitched later.

For those aged below 30, the marriage rates last year were lower compared with a decade ago, while the opposite trend was observed for those aged 30 years and above.

Mr Ching Wei Hong, chairman of the Families For Life council which promotes resilient families, said: "As a result of delayed marriages, more couples will have children at an even later age. A range of health-related problems can plague older women during pregnancy.

"Like planning ahead for one's career, it is highly beneficial for couples to think about family aspirations early on, and work together towards their goals."

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