Divorce rate declining as Kiwis marry later in life

Kiwis are marrying later and divorcing less, is there a link between the two?

Kiwis are marrying later and divorcing less, is there a link between the two?

If Richie and Gemma did get hitched last weekend then they're going against the grain of New Zealand's marriage trend. 

At 36 years old McCaw is late to the altar, while at 26, Flynn is surging ahead of most New Zealand women. 

By the time New Zealand women reach 29 years old, those who've tied the knot become the majority over singletons, according to figures from the 2013 census and Statistics NZ.  

Men have one more year before their male counterparts start to drop off the radar, with the majority of 30 year olds calling themselves husband.   

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The age of Kiwis getting married has been steadily rising since 1991 and could be the secret to a longer-lasting marriage.

MindWorks psychologist Sara Chatwin said if people take longer to think about getting married, they're in a better position to stay committed.  

"If research was carried out on this it could be the case marrying later leads to fewer divorces," Chatwin said. 

"It may be coming off the back of a generation growing up in divorce, and they want to avoid relationship breakdowns."

New Zealand's divorce rate has been in decline since a spike in 2004.
123RF

New Zealand's divorce rate has been in decline since a spike in 2004.

She said people were more aware of the financial implications of marriage and may indicate people are thinking of marriage as a serious commitment, rather than "a romantic knee- jerk reaction". 

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Divorce rates in New Zealand have declined from 12 divorces per 1000 marriages in 1991, to 9.3 in 2015 and correspond with an increase in the age of people getting married.

The average age of getting hitched in 1991 for those who had never been married was 26.9 for men and 24.6 for women. 

But by 2015 the age had ramped up to 30.2 for men and 28.8 for women. 

So why are we getting married later? And could it be the secret to a longer lasting marriage? 

Statistics NZ population statistician Robert Didham said the trend was global.  

If the secret McCaw-Flynn wedding did go ahead, they don't fit the average demographic profile of Kiwis getting hitched.
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

If the secret McCaw-Flynn wedding did go ahead, they don't fit the average demographic profile of Kiwis getting hitched.

"From international data we can safely say [getting married at a later age] is a global trend," he said.  "There are lots of suggestions as to why. One is cost, another is lifestyle preferences." 

The number of marriages in 1991 was 21,841 and despite our population rising by 27.9 per cent since then, the number of marriages and civil unions in 2015 had fallen to 19,947. 

However, marriages are lasting longer as divorce rates decline. 

There were slightly more than 9000 divorces in 1991, reaching a peak of 10,609 in 2004. But by 2015 divorce rates had fallen to 8463. 

The trend in age at divorce has been moving upward. This partly reflects the marked trend toward later marriages, which started in the early 1970s. The median age at divorce in 2015 (including the dissolution of couples from both marriages and civil unions) was 46.5 years for men and 44.2 years for women, compared with 43.3 years and 40.8 years, in 2005. 

New Zealand also had a higher than average rate of people in de facto relationships.   

On average, 25.5 per cent of adults aged 20 and over were with a partner outside of marriage in 2015. Comparably, the OECD average was only 10 per cent. 

Although there's no evidence holding out on bending the knee leads to a happier marriage, there seems to be no harm in waiting. 

 - Stuff

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