Number of marriages in NZ fall sharply amid pandemic

Source: 1News

Wedding bells weren't in the air for Kiwis last year as the number of marriages and civil unions fell sharply amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A wedding ceremony.

"Last year, 16,779 New Zealand residents celebrated a marriage or civil union," Statistics New Zealand population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack said today in a statement.

“Marriages and civil unions have decreased over the last couple of years, down from 19,071 in 2019 and 20,949 in 2018, but with a sharper drop in 2020 than in previous years, likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The number of marriages saw a noticeable drop last year coinciding with Alert Level 4.

Meanwhile, the second quarter of last year - April to June - saw just 1278 marriages and civil unions, compared with 3957 in 2019.

The rate of marriages per 1000 people able to get married also dropped to its lowest rate of 8.3 last year, which Slack said was likely due to a "drop in number of marriages and the continuing population increase".

"The peak marriage rate was in 1971 with 45.5 couples tying the knot per 1000 eligible people, and has been trending downwards since."

Meanwhile, the number of divorces also dropped from 8388 in 2019 to 7707 last year, continuing a general downward trend in divorces since its peak in 1982.

It's unknown at this stage if the number of people divorcing was also impacted by the pandemic, with married couples in New Zealand being required to be separated for at least two years before being able to apply for a divorce.

In 2020 the divorce rate was 7.6 per 1000 married couples, compared with an average of 8.4 over the previous five years.

Border closures last year also saw a sharp drop in marriages and civil unions for overseas residents in New Zealand, decreasing by more than half last year.

Just 1248 marriages and civil unions were registered to overseas residents last year, down from 2889 in 2019 and 3120 in 2018.

Of that figure, only 96 were for same-sex couples, making up around 20 per cent of all same-sex couples marrying or forming a civil union last year. The number is down from 264 overseas same-sex couples in 2019, or 39 per cent of all same-sex couples. In 2018, 381 overseas marriages were same-sex couples, making up 43 per cent of all same-sex couples.

Of the overseas residents that did marry last year, 90 per cent took place in January, February and March - before Alert Level 4 restrictions were announced in late March.