Marriages, divorces fell in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions

bouquet on wooden bench with bride and groom in the background, focus on the flowers.
PHOTO: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Marriages in Singapore fell by nearly 11 per cent last year, due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the "Statistics on Marriages and Divorces, 2020" publication released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) on Wednesday (7 July), there were 22,651 marriages registered in 2020, a drop of 10.9 per cent from 2019, when there were 25,434 marriages.

The publication said that this was due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the restrictions during the circuit breaker period in April and May last year, as well as safe management measures applied to wedding solemnisations and receptions since March 2020.

Consequently, the annual average number of marriages in the last five years (26,255) was lower than the annual average registered between 2011 and 2015 (27,635).

Lowest number of marital dissolutions since 2006

According to the DOS publication, there were also fewer marriages that ended in a divorce or annulment in 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have also been a contributing factor.

Last year, 6,959 marriages ended in a divorce or annulment, a decline of 8.7 per cent as compared to the 7,623 marital dissolutions in the previous year. This was the lowest number of marital dissolutions since 2006.

DOS said in its publication that the COVID-19 pandemic, including measures taken during the circuit breaker period, may have contributed to this decline.

Between 2016 and 2020, the annual average number of marital dissolutions was 7,424, slightly lower than the average of 7,439 in the previous five-year period.

Marriage, divorce rates decline over past decade

The general marriage and divorce rates for both males and females have seen declines over the last 10 years.

According to the DOS publication, the general marriage rate for males was 35.7 marriages per thousand unmarried males aged 15-49 years in 2020, down from 39.3 in 2010. Meanwhile, the rate for females was 34.9 marriages per thousand unmarried females aged 15-49 years in 2020, slightly lower than 35.3 a decade ago.

For general divorce rates, there were 6.3 male divorcees for every thousand married males aged 20 years and over in 2020, a dip from 7.5 in 2010. Similarly, there were 6.1 female divorcees for every thousand married females aged 20 years and over in 2020, a decline from 7.2 in 2010.

Marrying at an older age

Singaporeans are also marrying at an older age, according to the latest statistics. Between 2010 and 2020, the median age at first marriage rose from 30.0 years to 30.4 years for grooms, and from 27.7 years to 28.8 years for brides.

The age gap between couples in their first marriage narrowed over the past decade. In 2020, 42.1 per cent of couples in their first marriage were either of the same age or aged one year apart, an increase from 35.4 per cent in 2010.

A further 18.1 per cent were aged two years apart, up from 15.5 per cent over the same period. Couples who were aged at least five years apart decreased to 19.2 per cent in 2020, from 28.3 per cent in 2010.

As for divorces, the media age at divorce rose over the last decade, from 41.0 years in 2010 to 43.2 years in 2020 for male divorcees, and from 37.4 years to 39.5 years for female divorcees.

The average duration of marriage for divorces in 2020 was 10.4 years, comparable to the 10.6 years in 2010. Couples who were married for five to nine years continued to account for the largest share (29.4 per cent) of all divorces in 2020.

The publication on “Statistics on Marriages and Divorces, 2020” and accompanying materials are available on the SingStat website.

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