SINGAPORE: There were a total of 27,971 civil and Muslim marriages registered in 2016, 1.2 per cent lower than the 28,322 marriages registered the year before, according to the latest figures from the Department of Statistics (Singstat).
According to Singstat's Statistics on Marriages and Divorces Reference Year 2016 released on Tuesday (Jul 18), the overall decline was a result of fewer civil marriages, which fell from 22,544 in 2015 to 22,017 last year. This was more than the rise in Muslim marriages, which went up from 5,778 to 5,954 over the same period.
It added that the general marriage rate has remained relatively stable since 2014, with the rate for males at 44.4 marriages per thousand unmarried males aged 15-49 in 2016, up from 40.5 marriages in 2013. Similarly for females, the rate was 41.6 marriages per thousand unmarried females aged 15-49 years, up from 36.9 marriages over the same timeframe.
Conversely, there were 7,614 divorces and annulments in 2016, a 1.2 per cent increase from the year before, according to Singstat.
Civil marriage dissolutions rose from 5,855 in 2015 to 5,912 in 2016. Muslim divorces also grew, from 1,667 to 1,702 over the same period.
The general divorce rate in 2016 was unchanged from 2015, Singstat noted, adding that there were 7.1 male divorcees per thousand married males above the age of 20. For females, the rate was 6.6.
The report also found a "prominent shift" in the age profile of divorcees towards the older age groups in the last decade.
The proportion of divorcees over the age of 45 rose from 31.4 per cent in 2006 to 42.3 per cent in 2016 for males, and from 20 per cent to 28.4 per cent for females, Singstat said, adding that this is in tandem with the ageing population and higher divorce rates for the older population.
The median duration of marriages that end up in divorce is 10 years, Singstat found, adding that 29.9 per cent of divorces involved marriages that lasted between five to nine years.
Singstat also found that the wife instituted 62.4 per cent of civil divorces last year. The top two reasons for civil divorce were unreasonable behaviour (53.5 per cent) and having lived apart or separated for three years or more (42.5 per cent).
Looking at Muslim divorces, those filed by the wife constituted almost seven out of 10 of them last year. This is the same figure as in 2006, Singstat said. Both male and female plaintiffs cited infidelity or extra-marital affair as the top main cause of the marriage breakdown.
CONSIDER ATTENDING A MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAMME: TAN CHUAN-JIN
In a Facebook post, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said his ministry will continue its core work of strengthening and supporting marriages, as "they are the basis of families and society".
He also said those who are planning to get married or have just tied the knot should consider attending a marriage preparation programme.
"A marriage preparation programme called PREP is offered as a complimentary lunchtime talk for couples getting married at the (Registry of Marriages), and the full PREP workshop is available in the community. Our marriage education partners also offer other marriage preparation programmes in the community," he said.