The highest number of divorces in Singapore last year came from couples who stayed married for 5 to 9 years

Between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of grooms marrying brides with either the same or higher educational qualification also increased.
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  • Total marriages registered in Singapore dipped 4.3 per cent last year.
  • But inter-ethnic marriages are on the rise, making up 22.4 per cent of total marriages, a 16.7 per cent increase from 2008.
  • There were also fewer divorces compared to 2017, and the largest proportion was made up of couples married for five to nine years.

Marriage numbers are on the decline in Singapore, and more Singaporeans are also waiting longer to tie the knot, recent figures have revealed.

The 2018 edition of the Statistics on Marriages and Divorce – released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) on Tuesday (July 30) – has revealed that there was a drop of 4.3 per cent in total marriages registered last year. 

In total, 27,007 marriages were registered last year, down 1,205 from 2017, DOS said.

More specifically, there were 854 fewer civil marriages and 351 fewer Muslim marriages in 2018.

Singaporeans are also getting married later on in life as compared to 10 years ago, DOS said. The report revealed that the median age at first marriage for grooms rose from 29.8 years to 30.2 years between 2008 and 2018.

The median age for brides at first marriage also rose from 27.3 years in 2008 to 28.5 years during the same time period.

Department of Statistics

Inter-ethnic marriages on the rise

One thing that is on the rise though, is the number of inter-ethnic marriage. Last year, 22.4 per cent of total marriages were between grooms and brides of different ethnic groups, a 16.7 per cent increase from 2008.

Meanwhile, the proportion of grooms marrying brides with either the same or higher educational qualification also increased over the 10-year period.

The report revealed that the proportion of university-educated grooms marrying brides with the same qualification in civil marriages increased from 75.8 per cent to 83.1 per cent, and from 56.4 per cent to 64.6 per cent for Muslim marriages.

Fewer divorces

Even though fewer Singaporeans are getting married as the years go by, there were also fewer marriages that ended in divorce last year, DOS said.

In 2018, a total of 7,344 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment, a decrease of 3.1 per cent from 2017. The drop in civil marital dissolutions offset the small increase in Muslim divorces last year, the report added.

Most divorcing couples were married 5 to 9 years

The report also revealed that couples who were married for five to nine years made up the largest share (30.1 per cent) among civil divorces in 2018.

Meanwhile, couples who were married for less than five years made up the largest proportion (30.1 per cent) of Muslim divorces.

Department of Statistics

Most divorces (59.5 per cent) filed by women under the Women’s Charter were for “unreasonable behaviour”, while “lived apart or separated for three years or more” was the top reason (52.1 per cent) cited by husbands.

According to DOS, “infidelity or extra-marital affair” was the top cause of Muslim marriage divorces cited by both husbands (23.8 per cent) and wives (20.8 per cent).

This was followed by  “desertion” for husbands (10.5 per cent) and “financial problems” for wives (13.4 per cent), the report revealed.

Department of Statistics

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Desmond Lee, the minister for Social and Family Development (MSF), said that he was “encouraged” to see a decrease in the total number of divorces.

He added that the Committee to Review and Enhance Reforms in the Family Justice System (RERF) was looking at ways to “reduce hostility and conflict” between divorcing families for more positive family outcomes.

The recommendations will be released for public consultation soon, Lee said. 

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