Marriage, divorce and everything in between

By September 10, 2019 Research Publications

Alarm bells for the nation’s future demographic profile continue to ring after the release of the 2018 Marriage and Divorce figures by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) in July this year.

The number of marriages continue to fall, dipping to a five-year low, but divorce rates saw an improvement with a 3.1% drop from 2017. This has amassed the attention of government councils, organisations, and academics alike as they scramble to arrest the downward marriage trend.

Riding on earlier inclinations, Singaporeans are still opting to tie the knot later, have fewer or no children, and are more accepting of inter-ethnic marriages. Financial and work considerations remain the top reasons attributing to marital preferences. To further understand Singaporeans’ attitudes towards the perception of marriage, Black Dot Research conducted an online poll with our panel of respondents.

A total of 94 respondents took part in the online poll, with equitable representations across age groups, race and marital status. An overwhelming 84% of respondents felt that the most opportune age range for marriage was between 25-34 years old.

Not surprisingly, over half of respondents (62%) who are presently married or were once married tied the knot when they were between 25-29 years old, and 23% between 30-34 years old. Respondents who are unattached on the other hand, saw 57% of them planning to get married within the younger age range of 25-34 years old.

What was striking however, was that approximately 20% of those unattached also indicated their intent to remain single. The trend of childless families persists too, with 53% of respondents knowing 1-3 couples and 17% knowing 4-6 couples without children.

Of the various reasons mentioned, slightly less than half (48%) cited their inability to find the right partner as the biggest factor in their decision to remain single. The cost of wedding (20%) and personal preference (17%) were other contributing factors.

With divorce rates on the decline, we asked our respondents about the prevalence of divorced cases within their social circle. Slightly over half of them (51%) know 1-3 divorced couples, 15% not cognisant of any cases and only 6% aware of more than 10 divorces within their network.

Inter-ethnic marriages remain popular and accepted in our society, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents indicating they would not dismiss the possibility of having a marital partner from another ethnic group. Close to half of our respondents (48%) know 1-3 inter-ethnic marriages within their social circles.

Unlike the past where inter-ethnic marriages were uncommon, this new trend seems likely to stay as people receive higher education, are exposed to diverse and open cultures, and enjoy greater travelling accessibility; weakening previous prejudices to marital unions and friendships.

What’s next?

Truth be told, we raise the same question. The fact is, no one knows definitively how and if these trends will be here to stay or change dramatically over the course of next year (or months) until the next statistical release by DOS. Yet what we do know for sure is that the marital landscape of Singapore is a multiplex one; one enmeshed with personal pursuits and aspirations, the evolutionary national economy, and in simultaneous tandem with rapidly evolving global trends. What are your views? Drop us a note at

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