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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The collection provides data on the number of marriages registered each reference year. Annual data is provided on the ages, marital status, country of birth and previous marriage details (number of marriages, how last marriage terminated, children) for the bridegroom and bride of each marriage registered in the reference year. Data are available for each State and Territory.

    Registered marriage data are used to help understanding of family formation.

    For all their limitations - especially incompleteness because of 'unregistered' marriages and divorces (de facto formation and dissolution) - marriage and divorce registration statistics provide a unique measure of the social well-being of our society. The data tell not only of family formation but also of family dissolution for couples and children. This is important data for social program development and research.


The scope of the collection is all marriages registered by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each Australian state and territory for the current reference period (calendar year).

Marriages of overseas residents visiting Australia are included in these statistics.

Under the Marriage Act the minimum age at which persons are legally free to marry is 18 years. Persons between the age of 16 years and 18 years may marry with parental or guardian consent and an order for a judge or magistrate. Any two persons under the age of 18 years may not marry each other.

Coverage of marriage statistics in Australia is considered complete as all marriages are recorded as legal events. However, there is usually an interval between the celebration and the registration of a marriage. As a result of the delay in registration, some marriages celebrated in one year are not registered until the following year.


    Conceptual framework
    The unit of collection is all marriages registered in Australia.

    See Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Statistical Concepts Library on the ABS website

    Main outputs
    Crude and age-specific marriage rates, median ages and marital status at marriage.

    Age (5-year groups and single ages)
    Marital status
    Country of birth - Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS) up to and including 2004
    Country of Birth - Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), version 2.02.from 2005
    Category of celebrant
    Australian Standard Classification of Religious Group (ASCRG)

    Other concepts (summary)
    not applicable

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    No exclusions.


    Frequency comments

Marriage statistics are provided to the ABS as an administrative data set from each jurisdiction's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 requires that a marriage shall not be solemnized unless a notice in writing of the intended marriage, in the prescribed form (Form 13 - Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM)) is given to the authorised celebrant solemnising the marriage. The authorised celebrant to whom the Notice is given sends the NIM to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages of the State/Territory in which the marriage takes place, after the ceremony. The Registrar uses the NIM to register the marriage. The Registrar-General's office in each state provides information on registered marriages to the ABS by either sending the original Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) forms or by providing data electronically .

The data is received via the ABS secure database in an electronic standard file format, except for Victoria and Queensland which are received in hardcopy. The requirement for a standard file format was introduced for the 2005 reference period. Prior to this marriages data was received in a number of formats.

    Marriages data have been collected and published for each year since prior to Federation. Except for 1995, no major changes to content of the collection have occurred during those years.

    Due to budgetary constraints in 1995, the ABS processed only limited details on marriages registered in 1995. These details were: State or Territory of registration, date of marriage, age of parties at marriage, and previous marital status of parties.

    From 1996 processing of full marriage data was recommenced.

    In 2004, marriage registrations were sampled for the larger states of NSW, Vic., Qld and SA, while the other states and territories were fully enumerated. Sampled forms were subject to full processing. For an explanation and calculation of the sampling error see Marriages Australia, 2004, Technical Notes (under Explanatory Notes). Full processing then resumed for 2005.

    A complete review of data items supplied to the ABS by the state/territory Registrars was conducted in 2005. A range of data items were not collected in 2005 due to issues including; quality and completeness of information supplied by marrying couples on the Notice of Intended Marriage form and differing state/territory Registrar practices regarding recording of data items. As a result, 46 data items are now collected and processed for the marriages collection. Data items that were not collected in 2005, that had been collected previously are:
      • birthplace of grooms father
      • birthplace of grooms mother
      • grooms number of marriages
      • grooms 1st marriage date
      • birthplace of brides father
      • birthplace of brides mother
      • brides number of marriages
      • brides 1st marriage date
    Some data for 2005 and after are not available at a national level as some state/territory Registrars were not able to supply information for these data items. Data items regarding; Interval to Remarriage, Number of Children and Duration of Residence (years and months), are not available for New South Wales, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory. Data items regarding, Number of Children, are not available for Western Australia. As a result of these data items not being supplied by all states/territories, statistics on interval to remarriage, number of children and duration of residence (years and months) are not able to be published at a national level.
    Annual unit record files for each year since 1974 are available.


    Data availability comments

    08/09/2010 09:26 AM