SINGAPORE - A recent study has found that the rate of marriage dissolutions or divorces is higher among recent marriage cohorts and younger grooms but lower among recent Muslim marriages.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), supported by the Department of Statistics, examined the stability of resident marriages over time and across different marriage cohorts from 1987 to 2012.
The study revealed three key observations:
Firstly, marriage dissolution rates among recent marriage cohorts have increased compared to those in the past.
Among those who married in 2003, 16.1 per cent had their marriage dissolved by the 10th year of marriage compared to 8.7 per cent for the 1987 cohort.
By the 15th year of marriage, 20.3 per cent of the 1998 cohort had their marriage dissolved compared to 12.3 per cent of the 1987 cohort.
Secondly, there is a higher proportion of dissolved marriages among younger grooms aged between 20 and 24.
Divorce rates for younger grooms are twice as high compared to those aged 25 years and older for those in non-Muslim marriages.
In Muslim marriages, younger grooms were 1.5 times more likely to divorce as compared to older grooms.
In 1998 for example, 33 per cent of non-Muslim marriages and 39.1 per cent of Muslim marriages involving younger grooms ended in divorce by the 15th anniversary.
Lastly, recent cohort Muslim divorce rates before the 5th year of marriage has fallen.
These divorce rates decreased from 14 per cent for the 2003 marriage cohort to 11.4 per cent for the 2008 marriage cohort.
According to the MSF, 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 and 44 per cent of couples in the programme decided not to proceed with divorce.
In order to strengthen the foundation of couples before they get married, MSF will be rolling out a new marriage preparation programme from May 2015.
The twelve-hour programme, Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme (PREP), is a more comprehensive version of the initial free two-hour "Introduction to PREP" which had been attended by more than 400 couples at the Registry of Marriages since the beginning of this year.
In addition, to help couples whose marriages may be more vulnerable, the Women's Charter has made it compulsory for marrying couples where at least one party is a minor below 18 and requires a Special Marriage License, or where both parties are minors below 21 years old, to attend such programmes since 2011.
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 United Kingdom and New Zealand.