Recently, Statistics South Africa released the latest available data about South African marriages.
It shows that South Africans are waiting longer before they are getting married, and that almost 30% of divorces were for marriages that lasted between five and nine years.
Here are some of the key findings:
In 2017, there were 135,458 civil marriages in South Africa – compared to 186,522 a decade earlier. More than 82% of the men in civil marriages weren’t married before, while almost 87% of women were first-timers.
The slump is even bigger among customary marriages - in 2017, 2,588 of these marriages were registered at the Department of Home Affairs, down from more than 16,000 a decade ago. More than 56% of customary marriages were registered in KwaZulu-Natal.
For first-time marriages, the median ages for men and women were 34 years and 31 years respectively in 2017.
This has been on the increase – five years ago, it was 33 and 30 years, respectively.
In heterosexual marriages, more than three-quarters of bridegrooms were older than their brides. Less than 16% were younger and the rest were the same age. The average age difference between brides and bridegrooms is 4 years.
However: there is a big exception if you marry a female divorcee. Then, more than 44% of men who haven’t been married before are younger than their new wives.
The warmer months (beginning from September and peaking in December) are the most popular months for weddings in South Africa. A second peak occurs in March or April, depending on the month of the Easter holiday for that particular year, says Statistics SA.
In 2017, there were 25,390 divorces (compared to 30,763 in 2009). Some 155 divorces were granted for same-sex couples of which 115 were female couples and 40 were male couples.
White people had the highest rate of divorce - 1,3 per 1 000 white South Africans were divorced, followed by Indian/Asian with 1,0 per 1 000 population, coloured with 0,9 per 1 000 population and black African with 0.2 per 1 000 population
The largest percentage (27.2%) of divorces were for marriages that lasted between five and nine years, and 17.4% for those less than five years.
Almost 20% of divorces were for marriages that lasted between ten and 14 years. The white population had the highest proportion (22.0%) of divorces that occurred in the first five years
The median age at the time of divorce in 2017 was 44 years for males and 40 years for females.
For males, the peak age group at divorce was 40 to 44 for all population groups, except for white men, where the highest peak was from the age group 45 to 49 years.
In the case of females, the peak age group for black African and coloured population groups was 35 to 39 years and the peak for Indian/Asian and white population groups was 40 to 44 years.
In 51% of the divorces in 2017, women initiated proceedings. Less than 7% divorces were initiated by both husband and wife, and the rest by the husband. This rate was much higher for white women – in 58% of divorces, white women initiated proceedings, compared to only 45% for black women.
The Western Cape saw more than 6,000 divorces in 2017 - the province with the highest number of divorces granted. That's despite only 16% of marriage taking place in the Western Cape, compared to more than 26% in Gauteng.
In 2017, 56% of divorcing couples had children younger than 18 years. More than 23,000 children aged less than 18 years were affected by divorces that took place in 2017.
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