Marriage rate used to be 45.5 per 1000, now it’s 10.8

marriage rate

The marriage rate for New Zealand residents fell last year to its lowest since the peak in 1971.

While the number of marriages and civil unions among residents has been steady at around 21,000 per annum for the last 20 years, a rising population means that the number per capita has been on a steady decline.

“The general marriage rate is slowly declining due to the population increase in those who are eligible to marry,” Stats NZ senior analyst Kirsten Nissen said.

The rate fell to 10.8 couples per 1000 people eligible to marry or form a civil union, less than half the rate in 1988 and followed a general decline since the peak in 1971 when it was 45.5 per 1000.

She said the latest statistics showed half of the people marrying were over 30 years old.

“People are marrying at later ages.  An Independent marriage celebrant Sue Esterman says she has noticed couples have usually been together for a good while.

“They want to set their relationship in some sort of publicly acknowledged commitment that says ‘Yes, we’re in this for the long haul'”.

Although experts believe that the average cost of a Kiwi wedding has dropped to around $20,000, that’s still about $6,000,000 spent on weddings and civil unions in 2018.

More and more couples are opting for less extravagant options.

“With backyard weddings, you can get away $4,000 to $6,000, maybe $8,000. There’s no point taking out a mortgage for one big beautiful day you can organise yourself,” says Kapiti wedding celebrant Sarah Topliff.

While fewer New Zealanders are entering into partnerships, those who do are staying in them for longer.

The number of divorces in New Zealand dropped to 7,455 last year, the first time below 8,000 since 1980. A law change in 1981 saw an initial sharp increase in divorces in the early 1980s.


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