Source: The Mercury, 31 July 1997, p.7

Fall in wedded bliss

in Canberra 
THE rate of marriage 
among Australians has 
plummeted in the 10 
years to 1996 while the 
divorce rate has sky- 
About 8% of all marriages 
in Australia are doomed to 
end in divorce within five 
years of marriage and 19% 
are expected to end within 10 
The Australian Bureau of 
Statistics said that remar- 
riage following divorce had 
the highest risk of failure. 
New ABS figures on mar- 
riage and divorce released 
yesterday show Australia's 
marriage rate for 1996 of 5.8 
per 1000 people is the lowest 
this century. 
Last year, 52,500 couples 
were granted a divorce, the 
highest number since 63,200 
were divorced after the intro-
duction of the Family Law 
Act in 1976. From the mar- 
riage ceremony to divorce, 
the median length of mar- 
riages was between 10 and 11 
years, with separation occur- 
ring after about seven years. 
Among the divorces last 
year, 37% of couples separ- 
ated in the first five years 
after the wedding. 
More couples, 22% last 
year, were lodging joint appli- 
cations for divorce compared 
with 7% 10 years ago. 
However, wives are still 
more likely to apply for a 
divorce, particularly when 
children are involved. 
Last year there were 
106,100 marriages in Aust- 
ralia, the lowest number 
since 1979, when 104,400 
marriages were registered. 
The marriage rate per 1000 
people was previously at its 
lowest in the Depression with 
six marriages per 1000 popu- 
lation. The highest rate this 
century was 12 marriages per 
1000 population in 1942. 
Couples are waiting longer 
before getting married and 
the number of people who 
have never married grew 
from 25% in 1976 to 31% in 
The median marrying age 
has also grown in 1996, with 
men waiting until they are 
29.6 years and women until 
they are 27.2, an increase of 
4.7 years for men and five for 
women compared with 20 
years ago. 
The proportion of divorced 
Australians was 2% in 1976 
compared with 7% last year. 
The median divorce age for 
men in 1996 was 40.2 years 
and 37.4 years for women. 
Men were increasingly 
likely to marry after they 
turned 30 with 32% entering 
into their first marriage at 
that age compared with 11% 
in 1976. 
Last year, 20% of women 
entering into marriage for 
the first time were over 30 
compared with 6% in 1976.

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