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Please Note: Latest data can be found in Marriages, Australia, 2006 which was released on 4 October 2007.
Total marriages, 1985-2005, Australia
CRUDE MARRIAGE RATE
The crude marriage rate (per 1,000 of population) decreased to 5.4 in 2005, down from 5.5 in 2004. Over the past twenty years the crude marriage rate has been in decline, although it has shown little movement since 2001. The crude marriage rate for Australia in 2005 is 1.9 lower than it was in 1985 (7.3 per 1,000 population), and 0.7 lower than in 1995 (6.1).
At a state and territory level, the crude marriage rate decreased in 2005 in all states and territories except Western Australia where it rose 0.2, from 5.3 in 2004 to 5.5 in 2005.
Queensland recorded the highest crude marriage rate for 2005 (6.1 per 1,000 population). This has been the case for the last 10 years. Over the last 20 years, the Northern Territory has consistently recorded the lowest crude marriage rate in Australia. In 2005 the rate was 3.8 per 1,000 population, 1.6 below the rate for Australia.
Crude marriage rate, 1985-2005, Australia
AGE AT MARRIAGE
Median Age at Marriage
The trend towards older age at marriage continued in 2005. The median age of bridegrooms at marriage was 31.5 years, rising from 27.0 years in 1985. The median age of brides rose to 29.3 years in 2005 from 24.5 years in 1985.
The median age has increased from 27.0 years in 1985 to 29.2 years in 1995 and to 31.5 years in 2005 for bridegrooms. Similarly, in the past 20 years, the median age of brides at marriage has increased from 24.5 years in 1985, 26.8 years in 1995, up to 29.3 years in 2005.
The median age of bridegrooms at marriage exceeded 30 years of age (30.1 years) for the first time in 1999. In comparison, the current (2005) median age of brides is still under 30 years of age (29.3). The age difference between bridegrooms and brides at marriage has been approximately 2 years for the past 20 years.
In 2005, bridegrooms and brides in Northern Territory were the oldest at time of marriage with a median age of 33.2 years and 30.5 years respectively and this continued the trend of the past 20 years.
Age at marriage, Selected years, Australia
The median age at first marriage also increased. In 2005, the median age was 29.5 years for bridegrooms and 27.6 years for brides. In 1985, the respective median ages at first marriage were 25.4 years and 23.2 years.
Age at first marriage, Selected years, Australia
Age-specific marriage rates
In 2005, the largest age group of bridegrooms and brides at marriage was 25-29 years. There were 45.6 marriages of bridegrooms and 50.9 marriages of brides in that age group for 1,000 estimated resident population of the same age. The age specific marriage rates have also demonstrated the trend towards older age at marriage, over the past 20 years. In 1985, the largest age group was 20-24 years for bridegrooms (56.8 marriages) and brides (76.6 marriages). In 1995 the peak age group for bridegrooms was 25-29 (51.8) followed by 20-24 (31.7), while for brides the peak group was 20-24 (51.2) followed closely by the 25-29 age group (47.9).
Of most interest, is the continued marriage rate decline for both bridegrooms and brides in the younger age groups. More specifically, in 2005 the age specific marriage rate for bridegrooms 19 years and under was 0.7 marriages and 3.3 marriages for brides in that age group per 1,000 estimated resident population. This was a decline from 2004 and was the lowest rates for this age group to date. Similarly, marriage rates fell in both the 20-24 age group, and 25-29 age group for both bridegrooms and brides.
Age-specific marriage rates, Australia
MARITAL STATUS AT MARRIAGE
Marriages registered where the bridegroom and bride had either been previously widowed or divorced decreased in 2005. This downward trend can be seen since 2000 in both cases. The greatest decline has been in the number of 2005 brides that had previously been widowed, showing a decline from 2004 of 9.7% (down to 2,069 marriages), whilst the number of bridegrooms previously widowed also declined (by 3.4%, down to 1,924 marriages). The number of previously widowed bridegrooms and brides remarrying is the lowest it has been since 1985, continuing the downward trend of widows remarrying over the past 20 years.
A decrease in the number of divorced brides and bridegrooms remarrying was strongest in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. New South Wales reported the largest decline from 2004, with the number of divorcee's remarrying dropping by 7.7% (622) for bridegrooms and 5.3% (389) for brides from 2004.
Bridegrooms and brides who are remarrying after a divorce are also older than in previous years. In 2005, the median age of bridegrooms remarrying after divorce was 44.5 years, an increase of 0.2 years from 2004 and 7.0 years from 1985. Similarly, the median age of brides remarrying after divorce was 41.2 years, compared with 40.7 years in 2004 and 34.2 years in 1985.
First marriages and remarriages
In 2005, 68.0% of all marriages registered were first marriages for both parties. A further 17.9% were marriages in which one partner had been previously married, and 14.1% were remarriages for both partners. These proportions have remained constant over the last 20 years.
Bridegrooms who were marrying for the first time are older. The median age of bridegrooms marrying for the first time in 2005 was 29.5 years, an increase from 29.4 years in 2004. In 1985, the median age of bridegrooms marrying for the first time was 25.4 years. The median age of brides marrying for the first time also increased to 27.6 years in 2005, from 27.5 years in 2004 and 23.2 years in 1985.
Overall, bridegrooms had a shorter interval between previous and current marriage than brides. In 2005, the median interval to remarriage was 3.5 years for bridegrooms compared with 4.2 years for brides. The median interval to remarriage varied by marital status. Previously widowed bridegrooms and brides had a longer interval to remarriage (4.0 and 6.4 years respectively) than previously divorced bridegrooms and brides (3.5 and 4.0 years respectively).
COHABITATION PRIOR TO MARRIAGE
Of the 109,323 couples who registered a marriage in 2005, 75.9% indicated that they had cohabited prior to registering their marriage. This proportion has been increasing consistently since 2000, when 71.3% of couples reported they had cohabited prior to marriage. Cohabitation before marriage was most likely for those who married in Tasmania (83.9% of all marriages) in 2005, and least likely in New South Wales (69.3% of all marriages).
In 2005, 81.0% of bridegrooms in the 35-39 years age group cohabited before marriage compared with 56.3% of bridegrooms aged 19 years and under. Brides in the 30-34 years age group were most likely to cohabit (82.1%) while brides aged 19 years and under were the least likely (58.6%).
Proportion cohabiting prior to marriage, Australia
In 2005, marriages performed by civil celebrants again outnumbered marriages performed by ministers of religion. This trend began in 1999 when 51.3% of all marriages were performed by civil celebrants. By 2005, the proportion had increased to 59.6%. In comparison, in 1985 only 40.0% of marriages were performed by civil celebrants.
Couples who cohabit before marrying are more likely to marry in a civil ceremony (66.7%) than those who do not (33.3%) and account for 85.1% of civil ceremonies.
In 2005, the highest proportion of civil marriages was in the Northern Territory (74.4%). The Northern Territory has had the highest proportion of civil marriages for the past twenty years. New South Wales had the lowest proportion of civil marriages (54.8%), whilst South Australia experienced the largest increase in civil marriages from 55.2% in 2004 to 58.7% in 2005.
Of the 44,218 marriages performed by ministers of religion in 2005, the most common rites used were Catholic (32.7%) followed by Anglican (18.8%). Catholic rites were most common in all states except Tasmania, where Anglican rites accounted for 28.9% of religious ceremonies and Catholic rites for 24.4%.
Anglican rites were the second most common in all states except Tasmania and South Australia. In South Australia, there were 19.3% Uniting Church rites and 14.4% Anglican rites.
Category of celebrant, 1985-2005, Australia
COUNTRY OF BIRTH
In 2005, 61.4% of marriages were of Australia-born couples. A further 8.7% were marriages of couples born in the same overseas country, and 29.9% were marriages of bridegrooms and brides from different countries. In 1985, the comparative proportions were 64.8%, 6.5% and 28.7% respectively.
In 2005, the median age at marriage for bridegrooms born in Australia was 31.1 years and the median age for Australian-born brides was 28.9 years.
Bridegrooms born in Greece and Italy had the highest median age at marriage, 43.3 years and 41.9 years respectively. In contrast, grooms born in China and India had the lowest median age at marriage (both at 28.4 years). For brides, those born in Italy had the highest median age at marriage (40.3 years) followed by those born in the United Kingdom (35.3 years). In contrast, brides born in Lebanon had the lowest median age at marriage (24.8 years).
Of the countries selected for comparison (refer data cube Table 2) Viet Nam had the highest crude marriage rate (12.1 per 1,000 population), followed by Iran (8.9), Mauritius (8.8) and the United States of America (7.8). Australia falls in the mid range with 5.4. The lowest crude marriage rate was recorded by Venezuala (2.8), followed by Panama (3.3), Chile (3.6) and France and Italy (4.3).
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