Covid likely cause of sharp drop in marriages in 2020

The number of marriages, civil unions, and divorces fell sharply in 2020, Stats NZ said today.

“Last year, 16,779 New Zealand residents celebrated a marriage or civil union,” population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack said.

“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.”

December yearTotal marriagesFirst marriagesRemarriage
195217061138753186
195317223142113012
195417559144693087
195517793148922901
195617532146072925
195717613146612955
195818306151893114
195918315152283087
196018909157833126
196119428164043024
196219572166142958
196319854168842976
196420721175863132
196521702185853117
196622947197523198
196723514203493165
196824057207633291
196924972211413828
197025953218254128
197127201228124383
197226868223084557
197326274214264848
197425413203465067
197524534193385199
197624153184715685
197722590168755712
197822425166085820
197922326163775946
198022980168246156
198123658167436918
198225536168338703
198324678164528229
198425272167468526
198524657165368121
198624036159998037
198724444163148130
198823487157567728
198922734152017533
199023340154957845
199121840142867554
199220805134527350
199320802135007302
199420586134047182
199520451130447407
199620451129367518
199719953127327221
199820133128437290
199921084135907497
200020655130867572
200119971126637311
200220688131647524
200321420137137707
200421006135217485
200520718133657353
200621798143197476
200721810145747236
200822275150307242
200921939150606870
201021213147036501
201120532142626264
201220823144366384
201319425134495871
201420175139986054
201519947139145982
201620235143285865
201720685147665889
201820949150095916
201919071137885268
202016779121924572

There was a noticeable drop in marriages coinciding with COVID-19 alert level 4. During the second quarter (April-June 2020) there were only 1,278 marriages and civil unions, compared with 3,957 in 2019. However, during the other three quarters there were slightly more marriages per quarter in 2020 compared with 2019.

The rate of marriages per 1000 people eligible to marry has dropped to its lowest rate of 8.3 in 2020. This is likely the result of the 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.

Divorces

Married couples in New Zealand are required to be separated for at least two-years prior to applying for a divorce, which means the effect of COVID-19 on divorces cannot be determined yet.

After a rise in the number of couples granted a divorce in 2019 (8,388 divorces, compared with 7,455 in 2018), the number dropped to 7,707 in 2020. This continues the general downward trend in divorces since the peak in 1982.

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

December yearGeneral marriage rateDivorce rate
196138.193.2
196237.653.2
196337.113.4
196437.653.3
196538.593.1
196640.143.5
196740.683.4
196841.493.5
196942.834.8
197043.954.9
197145.495.1
1972445.2
197341.825.3
197439.246.4
197536.896.6
197635.467.4
197731.967.4
197830.638
197929.558.5
198029.359
198129.3911.9
198230.7117.1
198328.513.3
198428.1512.5
198526.5811.7
198625.2911.9
198724.9611.8
198823.3611.8
198922.1811.7
199022.1912.3
199119.6512
199218.3411.9
199317.9511.9
199417.411.9
199516.8812.3
199616.4712.7
199715.7112.3
199815.5812.6
199916.0812.5
200015.4912.2
200114.7112.1
200214.8312.7
200314.8912.8
200414.2512.8
200513.7611.9
200614.1711.9
200713.9811.3
200814.1111.3
200913.710.1
201013.0410.1
201112.469.7
201212.519.9
201311.449.3
201411.569.1
201511.129.2
201610.948.7
201710.98.3
201810.817.6
20199.668.4
20208.37.6

Sharp drop in marriages for overseas residents

The impact of COVID-19 border closures was reflected in the sharp drop in marriages and civil unions for overseas residents in New Zealand. In 2020, only 1,248 marriages and civil unions were registered to overseas residents, down from 2,889 in 2019 and 3,120 in 2018.

For the overseas residents that did marry in New Zealand in 2020, 90 percent of these marriages took place in the months of January, February, and March, before alert level 4 restrictions came into place in late March.

Only 96 of the marriages and civil unions registered to overseas residents were for same-sex couples. This made-up about 20 percent of all same-sex couples marrying or forming a civil union in 2020. This is down from 264 overseas same-sex couples in 2019, or 39 percent of all same-sex couples. In 2018, 381 overseas marriages were same-sex couples, making up 43 percent of all same-sex couples.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.