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    Jul 30, 2015

    Marriages hit record high last year

    WEDDING bells rang longer and louder than usual last year with a record 28,407 marriages registered - the highest in the past five decades.

    This was an 8.2 per cent rise from 2013, and the highest since records began being kept in 1961.

    Meanwhile, divorces and annulments fell by 2.9 per cent to 7,307 last year, according to the report released yesterday by the Department of Statistics .

    Commenting on th decrease, sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: "This could be due to more couples taking marriage preparation seriously and, therefore, being less likely to divorce."

    As for marriages, data showed that, even after taking population changes into account, the rate was the highest in at least 10 years.

    Changes in housing policies may have played a part. Sociologist Paulin Straughan said: "For many couples, the time to get married is when they get access to housing."

    She pointed out that there have been more Housing Board flats up for grabs. From 2011 to 2013, there were huge launches of 25,000 to 27,000 Build-to-Order flats each year.

    There is also the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme, which allows married couples to rent existing HDB flats while waiting for their new flats to be built.

    Prof Straughan said initiatives to promote marriage, such as the Marriage and Parenthood Package, consistently drive home the message that marriage is valued.

    Auditor Jasmin Loh, 29, and safety manager Nathaniel Sim, 33, were among the many couples who tied the knot last year. They had dated for about four years.

    Ms Loh said the incentives and perks were secondary. She said: "We got married last year mainly because we felt ready to take our relationship to the next level."

    Meanwhile, many are getting hitched later.

    For those aged below 30, the marriage rates last year were lower compared with a decade ago, while the opposite was observed for those aged 30 years and above.

    Said Ching Wei Hong, chairman of the Families For Life council, which promotes resilient families: "As a result of delayed marriages, more couples will have children at an even later age. A range of health-related problems can plague older women during pregnancy.

    "Like planning ahead for one's career, it is highly beneficial for couples to think about family aspirations early on, and work together towards their goals."