Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Marriage slides to an all-time low

Same-sex marriage could be just the boost the industry needs.

Official figures released on Tuesday show Australians marrying less than at any time since Federation.

Only 4.9 marriages per 1000 Australians were registered in 2016, down from 5.8 in the 1990s, 8.0 in the 1970s and 7.0 at the turn of the 1990s.

And the Australian Bureau of Statistics believes 4.9 might be an overestimate of the marriage rate. "A larger than usual number of 2015 marriage registrations have been delayed until 2016," it reported, meaning that the total included an unusual number of marriages that took place the previous year.

Counting only the 10,7836 marriages that actually took place in 2016, the bureau's figures suggest the actual marriage rate was just 4.5 per 1000 Australians, the lowest since it has been collecting statistics.

And they were overwhelmingly consecrated away from churches. In 2016 the proportion blessed by a minister of religion fell to just 23.6 per cent, the first time it has been below 25 per cent. Twenty years earlier, in 1996, the proportion had been 53.2 per cent.

Marriages are taking place later, typically at the age of 30.3 for men tying the knot for the first time, up from 27.6 twenty years earlier. Women marrying for the first time typically exchange vows at 28.7, up from 25.7.

The upside is that, like many same sex couples waiting to get married, they are used to spending time with their betrothed. Eighty one per cent had lived together before marriage, up from 76 per cent a decade earlier.

It might be why marriages are lasting longer. Those that got divorced typically do it after 12 years of marriage, up from 8 years in the 1970s. And divorce is less likely. Twenty years ago 2.9 in every 1000 Australians divorced each year. Now its 1.9.

Celebrants hoping for work when same-sex marriage becomes legal are likely to find it won't all come at once.

September and October were the biggest months for marriages in 2016, with 10,755 and 15,557 in each month. Autumn was the next most popular season, with 11,683 and 12,431 marriages in March and April. December was the least popular month with just 4458 ceremonies.

The most popular day of the month to get married is the 12th. The least popular is the 25th.

In The Age and Sydney Morning Herald