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Marriage and divorce continue downward trend

Marriage and divorce continue downward trend

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The marriage rate for New Zealand residents in 2018 was
the lowest since the peak in 1971, continuing a long
downward trend, Stats NZ said today.

The general marriage
rate in 2018 fell slightly to 10.8 couples marrying per
1,000 people eligible to marry (or form a civil union).
This is less than half the rate in 1988 and follows a
general decline since the peak in 1971 when the marriage
rate was 45.5 per 1,000.

The number of New
Zealand-resident marriages and civil unions was 20,949 in
2018, very similar to the annual average over the last 20
years. In contrast, marriages and civil unions in New
Zealand for overseas residents have generally increased over
the same period (3,120 in 2018 compared with 1,068 in

“Marriage numbers have been steady, but a rising
population means the general marriage rate continues to
fall,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers

“Marriage and divorce are far less common than in
the past.”

The divorce rate fell in 2018 to 7.7 divorces
for every 1,000 estimated existing marriages and civil
unions, the lowest rate since 1977. The current decline
continues the general decrease in the divorce rate since
2004. In 2018 the rate was 40 percent lower than in 2004
when it was 12.8 per 1,000.

The number of divorces in New
Zealand dropped to 7,455 in 2018, the first time below 8,000
since 1980. A law change in 1981 saw an initial sharp
increase in divorces in the early 1980s.

The decreasing
divorce rate coincides with a decrease in the number of
children whose parents divorced. In 2018, 5,598 children
under 17 years had parents who were granted a divorce, down
from 9,429 children in 1998.

Five years of
same-sex marriages in New Zealand

It has been
just over five years since same-sex marriages were first
celebrated in New Zealand in August 2013.

There were
4,872 same-sex marriages between August 2013 and December
2018. This number includes a similar number of New
Zealand-resident marriages (2,568), and overseas-resident
marriages (2,307) registered in New Zealand.

Over the last
five years, the average number of same-sex marriages was
around 900 a year, 3.5 percent of the average total
marriages (23,335) over this time.

The number of same-sex
marriages registered in New Zealand to overseas residents
decreased, coinciding with the introduction of same-sex
marriages in Australia from December 2017. In 2018, 375
same-sex marriages were registered in New Zealand to
overseas residents, down from the peak of 495 in

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