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Women Wait to Wed

Women Wait to Wed

Half of all women who married for the first time in the December 2004 year were aged 28.1 years or over, Statistics New Zealand said today. This is about two and one-half years older than those who married for the first time in 1994. The median age of men who married for the first time has risen by a similar margin, from 27.5 years in 1994 to 29.9 years in 2004.

Among all marriages (first marriages and remarriages) the median age at marriage is now 30.2 years for women and 32.3 years for men, up from 27.3 and 29.7 years, respectively, in 1994.

There were 21,000 marriages registered in New Zealand in the year ended December 2004. Over the last decade the annual average number of marriages has been around 20,600. This compares with an annual average of 24,900 during the period 1965¡V1974.

The general marriage rate (number of marriages per 1,000 not-married population aged 16 years and over) remained stable at 14.7 per 1,000 during 2001¡V2003 but dropped to 13.9 in 2004. The latest rate is less than a third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1,000 recorded in 1971.

Factors that have contributed to the low marriage rate include the growth in de facto unions, a general trend towards delayed marriage and an increasing number of New Zealanders remaining single.

The proportion of marriages where one or both partners had previously been married has remained stable at around 36 percent over the last decade. In 2004, the number of remarriages was 7,500. By comparison, 4,400 marriages (16 percent) in 1971 involved the remarriage of one or both partners. About 90 percent of those remarrying in 2004 were divorced.

ƒnIn 2004, a total of 10,600 marriage dissolution orders were granted by family courts ¡V up 1 percent on the number recorded in 2003 (10,500). The divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 estimated existing marriages) was 13.2 in 2004, similar to 2003 (13.1) and up from 1994 (11.9 per 1,000). New Zealand's divorce rate is comparable with Australia (13.1 in 2001) and England and Wales (14.0 in 2003).

The median age at divorce in 2004 was 40.4 years for women and 43.0 years for men. These people were, on average, three years older than those who divorced a decade earlier. The increase partly reflects the steady rise in age at marriage since 1971.

One-quarter of all divorces in 2004 were to couples who had been married 5 to 9 years. The median duration of marriages ending in divorce in 2004 was 13.2 years compared with 12.4 years in 1994. Analysis of divorce statistics by year of marriage shows that one-third of New Zealanders who married in 1979 had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary (25 years).

Under half of all marriages that dissolved in 2004 involved children (under 18 years). Of those divorces involving children, there was an average of 1.8 children per divorce. There has been little change in this figure during the past decade. Less than half (46 percent) of children involved were under 10 years of age in 2004.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician


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