3310.0 - Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/07/1997   
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July 30, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Australians marry less and later but divorce more

Australians are marrying less and at a later age but are still more likely than ever to divorce, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The publication Marriages and Divorces, Australia (Cat. No. 3310.0) says that of the population aged over 15 years 4,458,600 or 31 percent had never married, compared with 25 percent in 1976, and 942,000 or 7 percent were divorced, compared with 2 percent in 1976. Over this period, percentage decreases were recorded for currently married (falling from 65 percent to 56 percent) and widowed (falling from 7 percent to 6 percent).

Findings include:
  • In 1996, 106,100 marriages were registered in Australia, a fall of nearly 8 percent on 1986 registrations (114,900) and the lowest number since 1979 (104,400). The crude marriage rate of 5.8 per 1,000 population was the lowest recorded in Australia this century.
  • The median age at first marriage for all men was 29.6 years and 27.2 years for all women, which is an increase of 2.3 years for both bridegrooms and brides. The peak age group at first marriage for both men and women remained the age group 25-29 years.
  • Remarriage rates, per 1,000 widowed and divorced men or women, decreased in all but one female age group between 1986 and 1996. The peak age groups at remarriage in 1996 were 30-34 years for men (98.8) and 25-29 years for women (104.7).
  • The number of divorces granted in 1996 was 52,500 compared with 39,400 in 1986. Over the last 20 years, the divorced population has increased four times from 233,400 people in 1976 to 942,000 in 1996. About 8 percent of all marriages are likely to end in divorce within five years of marriage, 19 percent within ten years, 32 percent within twenty years and 39 percent within thirty years.
  • The median age at divorce was 40.2 years for men and 37.4 years for women. This was 2.7 years higher than in 1986, for both men and women.
  • Over the last 20 years the median duration of marriage for parties divorcing ranged between 10 and 11 years (11.0 years in 1996). The median duration of marriage to the time the parties separated was 7.6 years in both 1996 and 1986.

Copies of the publication Marriages and Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3310.0) are available from ABS Bookshops.