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Marriages Maintain Momentum

Embargoed until 10:45am – 22 May 2006

Marriages Maintain Momentum

There were 20,500 marriages registered in New Zealand in the year ended December 2005, Statistics New Zealand said today. This figure is in line with the annual average number of marriages (20,600) over the last decade, and compares with an annual average of 25,200 during the period 1966–1975.

While the number of marriages has been relatively stable, the marriage rate has dropped. The general marriage rate (marriages per 1,000 unmarried adults) was 13.2 in 2005, down from 16.9 in 1995. 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 2005, the number of remarriages was 7,300. By comparison, 4,400 marriages (16 percent) in 1971 involved the remarriage of one or both partners. About 90 percent of those remarrying in 2005 had been divorced.

In 2005, a total of 10,000 marriage dissolution orders were granted by the Family Court, consistent with the annual average for the last decade. The divorce rate (divorces per 1,000 estimated existing marriages) was 12.4 in 2005. Analysis of divorce statistics by year of marriage shows that about one-third of New Zealanders who married in 1980 had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary (25 years).

Under half (45 percent) of all marriages that dissolved in 2005 involved children (under 17 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.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician


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