MSF, with support from the Department of Statistics, recently conducted a study on the stability of resident marriages over time and across different marriage cohorts (1987 to 2012). The rise in Singapore’s marriage dissolution rate is in line with similar trends in other developed countries. Singapore’s marriage dissolution rates generally remain lower than those in countries such as the UK and New Zealand. The study also revealed three key observations:
- Marriage dissolution rates among recent marriage cohorts have increased compared to those in the past. Among those who married in 2003 (i.e. 2003 cohort), 16.1% had their marriage dissolved by the 10th year of marriage compared to 8.7% for the 1987 cohort. By the 15th year of marriage, 20.3% of the 1998 cohort had their marriage dissolved compared to 12.3% of the 1987 cohort.
- There is a higher proportion of dissolved marriages among “younger grooms” who were aged between 20 and 24 years old. Divorce rates for younger grooms in civil marriages are twice as high compared to those aged 25 years and older. 33.0% of marriages involving younger grooms who married in 1998 ended in divorce before their 15th anniversary. Divorce rates for younger grooms in Muslim marriages were 1.5 times higher compared to older grooms. 39.1% of Muslim marriages involving younger grooms who married in 1998 ended in divorce by the 15th anniversary.
- Recent cohort Muslim divorce rates before the 5th year of marriage has bucked the uptrend. These divorce rates decreased from 14.0% for the 2003 marriage cohorts to 11.4% for the 2008 marriage cohort. The improvement may be due to community initiatives in marriage preparation, enrichment and counselling for Muslim couples. Since the Marriage Counselling Programme for Muslim marriages began in 2004, more than 27,000 referrals were made. 44% of couples in the programme decided not to proceed with divorce. This supports research and feedback from marriage counsellors, which show that attending such programmes can improve relationship building skills and overall quality of relationship.
Download the full report: Dissolution of Marriage Cohorts, 1987 - 2012