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Number of Marriages Highest Since 1991

Marriages and Divorces: Year ended December 2003

14 May 2004

Number of Marriages Highest Since 1991

Marriages registered in New Zealand in the year ended 31 December 2003 totalled 21,420, Statistics New Zealand reported today. This is 3.5 percent more than in the December 2002 year (20,690) and the highest number since 1991 (21,840).

However, the latest figure is still down 21 percent on the peak of 27,200 recorded in 1971. 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 2001–2003. 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 of informal cohabitation (unmarried couples living together), the trend towards delayed marriage and an increasing proportion of New Zealanders remaining single. More than one in three marriages now involve the remarriage of one or both partners.

In 2003, the number of marriages in which one or both partners had previously been divorced or widowed was 7,710. By comparison, 4,380 (or one in six) marriages in 1971 involved the remarriage of one or both partners. The trend towards later marriage is continuing. Legal marriages among teenagers have become less common.

While 8,700 teenage girls married in 1971, three decades later, in 2003, the figure had dropped to just 600. Teenage girls made up 32 percent of all females who married in 1971, but just 3 percent in 2003.

ENDS

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