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Fewer Marriages and Divorces

Marriages and Divorces: year ended December 2000

Fewer Marriages and Divorces

There were fewer marriages and marriage dissolutions in 2000 than in 1999, Deputy Government Statistician Dianne Macaskill said today when releasing the latest marriage and divorce statistics.

Marriages registered in New Zealand in the year ended 31 December 2000 totalled 20,655, a decrease of 430 (or 2.0 per cent) on the previous year (21,085). The 2000 figure is down 24 per cent on the peak of 27,199 marriages in 1971. The rate of marriage (number of marriages per 1,000 not-married population aged 16 years and over) fell from 16.2 per 1,000 in 1999 to 15.6 per 1,000 in 2000. The latest marriage rate is about a third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1,000 recorded in 1971. The growth of de facto unions, the trend towards delayed marriage and a growing percentage of New Zealanders remaining single have all contributed to the large drop in the marriage rate.

The trend toward later marriage is continuing. Between 1999 and 2000, the median age at first marriage of New Zealand men rose by 0.3 years from 28.9 years to 29.2 years, while that of New Zealand women rose by 0.4 years from 27.0 years to 27.4 years. People marrying for the first time in 2000 were, on average, about six years older than their counterparts in 1971, when early marriage was the norm. While women still tend to marry men older than themselves, the gap between their average age at first marriage has narrowed, from 3 years in the mid-1960s to just over 2 years in 2000.

In the December 2000 year, 9,695 marriage dissolution orders were granted in Family Courts, compared with 9,936 in 1999. The divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 estimated existing marriages) fell from 12.6 in 1999 to 12.3 in 2000.

A growing proportion of marriages now involve the remarriage of one or both partners. In 2000, the number of marriages in which one or both partners had previously been divorced or widowed was 7,538, or about two in five of all marriages. This compares with 4,385, or one in six, in 1971. About 90 per cent of those remarrying in 2000 were divorced, up from 87 per cent in 1990 and 67 per cent in 1971.

The median age at divorce in 2000 was 41.6 years for men and 39.0 years for women. These people were, on average, more than three years older than those who divorced a decade earlier. The rise partly reflects the steady rise in age at marriage during the past two decades.

Analysis of divorce statistics by year of marriage shows that 29.9 per cent of New Zealanders who had married in 1975 had divorced within 25 years. For those married in 1967 and 1971, the corresponding figures were 25.9 and 29.3 per cent respectively.

Dianne Macaskill DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN END There is a companion Hot Off The Press published - Marriages and Divorces Year Ended December 2000

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