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Fewer wedding bells as marriage rate falls

Ringing the changes: Fewer weddings as marriage rates fall to lowest levels since 1954 (File photograph)

Bermuda’s marriage rate has dropped to its lowest level in almost 70 years, the latest population statistics have revealed.

The number of weddings fell by 18 per cent between 2018 and 2019 – 473 to 386 - the lowest since 1954.

Figures from the Department of Statistics’ 2018-19 digest also showed a record low birth rate and record high death rate for 2018 and 2019.

The figures were attributed to an ageing population and a drop in the number of women of reproductive age - 15 to 49.

There were six same-sex marriages in 2018, four in 2019 and one same-sex divorce.

The biggest year for same-sex weddings was 2017, with ten recorded.

The marriage rate, calculated per 1,000 of the population, fell from 7.4 to 6 in 2018-19.

The 30 to 34 age bracket remained the peak years for marriage from 2010.

But marriages increased in the higher age groups - in 2010, just over 7 per cent of marriages came from the 55 to 59 group, which grew to 16 per cent by 2019.

The figure was 7.2 per cent in 2010 for people aged 60 or over and 14.4 per cent in 2019.

Allan and Mildred Hunt, marriage counsellors who have been together for 50 years, highlighted a range of factors that could be responsible.

Mr Hunt said the two had seen more people waiting to tie the knot.

He added: “Kids no longer jump into marriage. People get married later in life – they’re taking their time and not rushing in.

“The church wedding is also a contributing factor. People are probably not attending as much as they did.

“It’s a sign of the times. Statistics have proved that people are getting married later in life, just as it’s the new norm for people to have several different jobs.”

Mr Hunt said there was less of “a good example set with marriage” and that the family unit was no longer such a strong force.

She added: “We have lost the art of having the family sitting and eating around the table.”

Mrs Hunt said a smaller role for the churches also had an effect.

She added: “Society is definitely getting more secular. But there’s a lot of statistics to prove that marriage is for better, despite what’s happening in our society.”

Both said that Bermuda’s trends were similar to those seen in the United States.

The Hunts added their traditional celebration of international marriage next month would have to be “brainstormed” because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Hunt said stresses such as the Covid-19 lockdown last year had put extra pressure on relationships.

He added: “If your relationship is a little shaky or challenged in other areas and you’re looking at that same person all day, you’d better have some strong resources to call upon.”

The statistics also showed a continued drop year on year in enrolment at public and public and private schools.

But Bermuda College admissions rose by 31 per cent in 2018-19 to 1,624 students.

Bermuda’s total number of occupied jobs continued an upward trend from 2015, rising from 33,855 in 2018 to 34,378 in 2019.

Work permits climbed from 8,690 to 9,243 in the private sector, but public sector work permits fell from 756 to 485.

By the Numbers

Selected statistics from the Digest of Statistics:

38% - the drop in the number of marriages between 2010 (619) and 2019 (386)

43% - the drop in the number of divorces between 2010 (217)and 2019 (123)

10 – the difference between the number of deaths in 2019 (535) and the number of births (525), the second straight year there have been more deaths than births

32% – the drop in the number of live births between 2010 (769) and the number in 2019 (525).

6 – the number of babies born to mothers under the age of 20 in 2019

34 - the number of babies born to mothers under the age of 20 in 2010

455 – the number of sexually transmitted infections in 2019

72% - the number of STIs that were Chlamydia

485 – the number of public sector work permits issued in 2019, compared to 1,214 in 2010.

57% - the percentage of 2-5 year public sector work permits issued in 2019 out of the total of 485

31% - the number of 2-5 year public sector work permits issued in 2010 out of the total of 1,214

26% - the number of 1 year public sector work permits issued in 2019

52% - the number of 1 year public sector work permits issued in 2010

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Published January 29, 2021 at 8:14 am (Updated January 29, 2021 at 8:14 am)

Fewer wedding bells as marriage rate falls

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