Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development stated that the number of dissolved marriages was lower for marriages involving grooms with higher educational qualifications attained.
The Minister stated this in a written reply in response to a question about the number of divorces for each income group of Singapore’s population. Mr Gan Thiam Poh, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC asked the Minister:
- Over the last three years, what has been the number of divorces for each income group of the Singapore population, and the percentage in relation to the total number of marriages,
- How many of them involved foreign spouses, and what is the percentage in relation to the total number of marriages to foreigners for each income group,
- Is there an upward trend in such divorces and, if so, what are the measures that the Ministry is taking to address the trend.
Mr Tan explained that Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) tracks marriage dissolution on a marriage cohort basis. Marriage cohort dissolution rates refer to the cumulative proportion of marriages from a particular year that have dissolved by a certain year.
Marriage dissolution comprises divorces and annulments, where divorces making up about 95% of all dissolution.
Mr Tan wrote, “We have used the 2007 to 2009 marriage cohorts as we can more meaningfully compare dissolution rates before the 5th anniversary from date of marriage onward. The population is defined as ‘resident marriages’, ie, marriages involving at least 1 Singapore Citizen (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR).”
“In addition, educational qualification is used as a proxy for income, as income is not a compulsory field when couples file for marriage locally,” he explained.
Mr Tan stated, in general, the number of dissolved marriages was lower for marriages involving grooms with higher educational qualifications attained.
For couples who married in 2007 to 2009, the number of dissolved marriages before the 5th anniversary for resident marriages remained relatively stable at around 1500 to 1600 per year (dissolution rate of 6.4% to 6.8%).
To the second question, the Minister answered, “For marriages between a Singapore Citizen (SC) and a Non-Resident (NR) the number was around 6,000 to 7,000 for the three marriage cohorts from 2007 to 2009.”
“Of these, around 400 to 500 marriages of each marriage cohort (7.1% to 7.9%) dissolved before the 5th anniversary. Based on the three marriage cohorts from 2007 to 2009, there appears to be an upward trend but more data points are required to confirm the trend,” he stated.
The Minister also wrote that it had recognised that SC-NR marriages face unique challenges. As an answer to the third question, he said MSF had introduced marriage programs in December 2014 as one of MSF’s efforts to help these couples manage cross-cultural differences as they settle down in Singapore, and to strengthen their marriages.
These programs included:
- The Marriage Preparation Program offered before marriage,
- The Marriage Support Program for newly-weds, and,
- The Friendship Program, which comprises family bonding activities, support group sessions and pairing of volunteers to foreign spouses as ‘buddies’.
The Ministry has also expanded marriage support for young couples. Mr Tan wrote, “For couples where at least one party is below 21 years old will be required to attend a Marriage Preparation Program conducted by MSF-approved organisations, before a marriage license can be issued.”
This requirement has been implemented since 1 October 2016 and it is in addition to prior requirement of parental consent.
These programs, which include a component on financial planning for the family, help couples build strong marriages, regardless of income or education, Mr Tan stated.