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Citizen marriages hit lowest in 34 years while births dip amid COVID-19 disruptions

Citizen marriages hit lowest in 34 years while births dip amid COVID-19 disruptions

A newly wed couple showing their wedding rings. (File photo: AFP/Jay Directo)

SINGAPORE: The number of citizen marriages in Singapore in 2020 plunged to its lowest in 34 years, while citizen births dropped to a seven-year low, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted some couples’ plans for weddings and parenthood.

There were 19,430 citizen marriages in 2020, down 12.3 per cent from the 22,165 nuptials in the year before, according to an annual report released by the National Population and Talent Division on Tuesday (Sep 28).

This is the lowest such figure since 1986, when there were 19,348 marriages, noted the division.

“Restrictions on large gatherings in the past year could have led couples to defer their marriages,” it said.

The median age at first marriage was 30.1 years for citizen grooms and 28.4 years for citizen brides, the same as in 2019.

The report added that about 30 per cent of the citizen marriages last year involved transnational couples, down from 37 per cent in 2019. This decrease may have been partly due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, it said.

The report also compared marriages in each quarter of 2019 and 2020 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The largest on-year decrease was in the second quarter, when in-person solemnisations had to be postponed during the “circuit breaker” period. There were 2,200 citizen marriages during the second quarter of last year, down from 4,800 in the same quarter in 2019.

As COVID-19 restrictions eased towards the end of last year and more attendees were allowed at solemnisations and receptions, more couples got hitched. As a result, 7,700 citizen marriages took place in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with 6,900 in the same period in 2019. 

FEWER CITIZEN BIRTHS

The pandemic also had an impact on parenthood decisions.

There were 31,816 citizen births in 2020, which is 3.1 per cent lower than the 32,844 births in the year before. This is the lowest number of such births since 2013.

In the past five years (2016 to 2020), there were about 32,500 citizen births on average each year, slightly more than the average of about 32,400 each year in the previous five years (2011 to 2015).

The median age of citizen mothers at first birth was 30.8 years in 2020, similar to 2019’s figure of 30.6 years.

SINGAPORE STILL FACING “LONGER-TERM STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES”

The National Population and Talent Division said that in survey of about 4,000 people in June 2020, some respondents said that they had delayed marriage and parenthood “due to concerns about the uncertain public health and economic conditions”.

While this could have contributed to lower births, the division acknowledged that most births in 2020 would have been conceived prior to the pandemic – and that “the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen”.
“We continue to face longer-term structural challenges with our low birth rates, similar to other advanced societies,” it said.

It added that one key measure introduced last year to “reassure and encourage” couples to go ahead with their parenthood plans amid the pandemic was the one-off S$3,000 Baby Support Grant.

“We will also continue to partner employers, corporates, and community groups to support families and build a Singapore that is Made for Families.”

Source: CNA/nh

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