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Inter-ethnic marriages continues on its upward trend and divorce rate down by 0.5% from previous year

The number of marriages in 2017 is more than the figures recorded in 2016, with inter-ethnic couples making up nearly a quarter of the 28,212 registered marriages, while the divorce rate fell.

This is according to the Statistics on Marriages and Divorces 2017 report released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Tuesday (10 July), 22.1 per cent of total marriages were inter-ethnic, continuing an upward trend from 16.4 per cent in 2007.

The report noted that marriages registered in 2017 was 0.9 per cent higher than the previous year due to a rise in both civil and Muslim marriages.

The rate for males increased from 44.4 marriages per thousand unmarried males aged 15 to 49 in 2016 to 45.7 in 2017. Similarly for females, the rate rose from 41.6 marriages per thousand unmarried females aged 15 to 49 to 42.8 over the same period.

Meanwhile, the general divorce or annulment rate has declined.

The report stated that a total of 7,578 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment in 2017, 0.5 percent lower than the 7,614 marital dissolution in the previous year. This was due to the decline in Muslim divorces, which more than offset the slight increase in civil divorces.

The general divorce rate also fell to 6.9 male divorcees for every thousand married males aged 20 and over in 2017, lower than the rate of 7.1 in 2016. Similarly, the rate for females fell to 6.5 per thousand married females aged 20 and over in 2017, from 6.6 in the previous year.

The report also mentioned the median age at divorce has risen over the last 10 years. The median ages for male and female divorcees were 43.2 and 39.1 respectively in 2017, up from 39.8 and 36.1 in 2007.

Statistics show that the median duration of marriage for divorces similarly rose, to 10.3 years in 2017, up from 9.6 years in 2007. Couples who were married for five to nine years accounted for the largest share (30.2 per cent) of all divorces in 2017.

Median age of first-time grooms is observed to be relatively stable over the last decade, falling to 30.0 years in 2017 after rising from 29.8 years in 2007 to 30.3 years in 2016. On the other hand, the median age of first-time brides rose from 27.2 years in 2007 to 28.4 years in 2017, thus narrowing the gender age gap.

Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee wrote a Facebook post on Monday, saying that the ministry will continue its work in strengthening marriages.

"We recognise that there are some marriages that inevitably break down. We will provide these families with the necessary support, putting the interests of the child first," he wrote.

"Our Divorce Support Specialist Agencies conduct support programmes and counselling for divorced or divorcing families. For example, parents with children below 21 years of age and are unable to agree on divorce and ancillary matters, are required to undergo the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) before they file for divorce," he added.