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Statistics on Marriages 2003

In 2003, 18,095 non-Muslim marriages were registered under the Women's Charter by the Registry of Marriages. Another 3,871 marriages were registered by the Registry of Muslim Marriages.

A total of 21,962 marriages were registered in 2003, about 5 per cent lower than the 23,198 registered in 2002. This was smaller than the annual average registered during the 1990's (24,800) and the 1980's (23,000). 

Marriages registered under the Women's Charter rose from 17,531 in 1973 to 20,166 in 1981 before falling to 15,375 in 1986. Thereafter, the number increased and fluctuated within a band of 18,000 - 22,000. In comparison, the number of Muslim marriages showed a gradual upward trend from 2,823 in 1973 to a peak of 4,822 in 1982, before falling to 3,871 in 2003.

Marriage rates fell across all age groups between 1993 and 2003. Males aged 35 - 39 years and females aged 20 - 24 years experienced the largest fall in marriages.

Remarriage (a marriage involving a non-bachelor or non-spinster) has become increasingly common, especially among Muslims. For Muslim grooms, the proportion remarrying rose from 17 per cent in 1993 to 23 per cent in 2003. The corresponding proportion for non-Muslim grooms increased from 8 per cent to 12 per cent during the same period. 

The mean age at first marriage increased by 2 - 3 years over the last two decades. The mean age at remarriage also increased by 1 - 3 years over the same period. In 2003, those remarrying were on average 8 - 13 years older than those who married for the first time.

The delay in timing of marriages occurs among brides and grooms of all educational groups, except for secondary-educated Muslim grooms and brides. In 2003, grooms with primary or no education married at the oldest ages. The mean ages at first marriage were 31 years and 31 years for non-Muslims and Muslims respectively. Among the brides, both non-Muslim and Muslim graduates were the oldest, with mean age at first marriage of 28 years. 

The majority of bachelor grooms married younger spinster brides. In 2003, such marriages accounted for 73 per cent of first marriages. This was a slight decrease from 76 per cent in 1993.

In 2003, about 33 per cent of couples in their first marriage involved partners within one year of each other. This was an increase from 29 per cent in 1993. Couples with large age differentials also increased over the decade. Couples with partners aged 10 years or more apart increased from 6 per cent in 1993 to 8 per cent in 2003.

The majority of marriages contracted under the Women's Charter were contracted by Chinese couples (85 per cent) while Malay couples made up 71 per cent of marriages contracted under the Muslim Law Act in 2003. The proportion of such marriages increased from 6 per cent in 1993 to 10 per cent in 2003 for non-Muslim marriages and from 18 per cent to 23 per cent for Muslim marriages during the same period. 

Of the 1,621 non-Muslim inter-ethnic marriages registered in 2003, those contracted between Chinese grooms and brides of ethnic groups other than Indian, Eurasian, Caucasian or Malay form the largest single combination of 33 per cent. Muslim inter-ethnic marriages were mostly between Malays and Indians. Malay grooms and Malay brides accounted 27 per cent of the 893 inter-ethnic group Muslim marriages in 2003.

Over the past decade, there was an increase in the proportion of grooms marrying brides with the same or better qualification at all educational levels. Among university-educated non-Muslim brides, the proportion marrying graduate grooms remained the same at 76 per cent. In contrast, the proportion of Muslim university-educated brides marrying their educational equals increased from 37 per cent to 44 per cent.

There were fewer marriages involving one teenage partner. In 2003, 1 per cent of non-Muslim grooms and 3 per cent of non-Muslim brides were below 21 years old. The corresponding proportions for Muslims were higher, at 4 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Source: Statistics Singapore Media Release 17 Jun 2004


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23 July 2004