New couples gesture with pleasure during the wedding ceremony for 160 couples at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall, north of Beijing. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Chengxuan)
Marriage by the numbers
CBC News Online | March 9, 2005
Despite recent increases in common-law unions, marriage continues to form the foundation for most Canadian families. Statistics Canada researchers say that in 2002, about 84 per cent of Canadian families were headed by married couples.
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Average age for first marriage:
The average age for first marriages is rising steadily for both brides and grooms. In 2000, first-time brides were 31.7 years old, while grooms proclaimed their first marriage vows at an average age of 34.3.
Only two decades earlier, women and men were 25.9 and 28.5 years old, respectively, when they got married. Statistics Canada attributes the change to greater economic opportunities for women and the growing popularity of common-law unions.
The number of couples forgoing marriage has more than doubled since 1981, the first time the statistic was tallied. At the time, there were 357,000 common-law relationships about six per cent of all couples. By the 2001 Census, roughly 14 per cent of all couples were common law. Common-law unions are most prevalent among young people and couples living in Quebec, where more than 30 per cent of all families are common law.
Common-law unions tend to be temporary and transitory, though they often transform into marriage. However, those marriages break up far more frequently than marriages not born out of common-law relationships.
With the passing of the Divorce Act in 1968, grounds for divorce were extended to include "no-fault" divorce based on separation for at least three years; in 1986, the separation period was revised to one year.
Within a decade of the introduction of the Divorce Act, the total divorce rate (the percentage of marriages that dissolved in the previous 30-year period) rose from 14 per cent of all marriages in 1969 to 30 per cent in 1975.
The total crude divorce rate peaked at 362 divorces per 100,000 inhabitants in 1987. The divorce rate in 2000 was 231 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Statistics Canada figures from 2003 show the number of Canadians getting divorced more than once is on the rise. Researchers found the number of marriage breakups involving husbands who have been divorced at least once tripled in three decades.
In 2003, 16.2 per cent of husbands getting divorced had at least one previous divorce, while in 1973, the rate was 5.2 per cent.
Similarly, divorces involving wives who had previously been divorced rose from 5.4 per cent in 1973 to 15.7 per cent in 2003.
Overall, more couples are getting divorced in Canada. The Statistics Canada report didn't factor in whether the number of marriages had also increased.
After three years of marriage, the divorce rate was at its highest, at 26.2 per 1,000 couples. The risk of divorce declined slightly with each passing year after that.
Marriage and Divorce|
Top Characteristics People Want in a Partner
Top Reasons Why People Marry
1. Marriage signifies commitment
2. Moral values
3. Children should have married parents
4. The natural thing to do
5. Financial security
Top Reasons Why Couples Divorce
1. Different values and interests
2. Physical and emotional abuse
3. Alcohol and drugs
5. Career-related conflict
SOURCE: Vanier Institute of the Family