Marriage? I’ll wait

The latest ABS statistics find that Australians are making life decisions, such as marriage and divorce, later than ever.

Who wants to grow up? Not Australians, apparently, with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research finding that Australians are getting married later than ever. We are also less likely to get married in the first place.

According to the ABS, the median age at marriage for males in 2015 was 31.8 years an increase from 31.5 in 2013 and 2014. The median age at marriage for females in 2015 was 29.8 years, an increase of 0.2 years since 2014. With the average cost of a wedding reportedly $65,000, there may be financial reasons for this delay.

Kirsty Parkes, Acting Director of Health and Vital Statistics, said that since 1995, the age at which people have first married has increased by around three years.

“Age at first marriage stabilised between 2005 and 2009, but since then has steadily increased. As a result, grooms preparing for their first marriage are now on average 30.1 years of age, while brides are likely to be a shade younger at 28.5 years of age,” said Ms Parkes.

Age married for first time Males
  1995 2015
20 – 24 27.5% 12.0%
25 – 29 41.2% 36.6%
30 – 34 19.9% 29.1%
35 – 39 6.8% 11.8%
40 – 44 2.2% 5.3%

Source: ABS 3310.0 Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2015

The most significant percentage change over the past two decades can be seen in the age at which females first get married. In 1995 just over 42% of females were married for the first time between the ages of 20 – 24; by 2005 that percentage had dropped to just over 19%.

Age married for first time Females
  1995 2015
20 – 24 42.1% 19.2%
25 – 29 35.2% 40.7%
30 – 34 12.4% 24.0%
35 – 39 3.8% 8.2%
40 – 44 1.2% 3.4%

The good news is that once we marry, we tend to stay married longer.Source: ABS 3310.0 Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2015

“Marriages that ended in 2015 lasted on average 12.1 years, compared with 11.0 years in 1995,” said Ms Parkes.

Other key characteristics of marriages and divorces have also changed over the last two decades. The number of marriages performed by religious celebrants has halved, with three quarters of marriages now performed by a civil celebrant. Additionally, the proportion of all divorces that are filed jointly is now over 40 per cent and rising, compared with 20 per cent in 1995.

“On top of these changes, in many states and territories, relationship registers now present couples with an alternative to marriage,” said Ms Parkes.

“In 2015, there were 9,344 couples in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory who formalised their partnership in this way. While this option is still only chosen by a small proportion of couples, it does appear to be contributing to a small decline in marriage numbers,” she said.

An Uluru wedding experience

In November an Australian wedding photography business announced that it will go where no wedding photographer has (legally) gone before – Uluru.

Darwin AIPP master photographer George Fragopoulos told news site  ProCounter  that his business will target Asian – primarily Chinese – couples, in an effort to boost tourism to the Northern Territory.

“Last year the NT Government had openings for infrastructure and tourism development grants, and I had this idea to bring people to the Northern Territory to have wedding photos taken – specifically Asian pre-wedding couples,” he explained.

“Melbourne, down south, and the east coast are popular for shoots, but there (are) some beautiful untapped spots around here that fit in with what the government is trying to support.”


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