South Africans marrying less

06 February 2013 - 14:33 By Sapa
Wedding rings. File photo.
Wedding rings. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Lifestyle changes among South Africans have contributed to fewer marriages, particularly customary marriages, the SA Institute of Race Relations said.

Between 2003 and 2010, the number of civil as well as customary marriages registered every year declined by eight percent, said researcher Thuthukani Ndebele.

Using figures from Stats SA, Ndebele said the decline in customary marriages was considerably more pronounced than that of civil marriages.

"Customary marriages dropped by 42 percent from 17,283 registered in 2003 to 9,996 in 2010. Civil marriages decreased by four percent from 178,689 to 170,826."

He said the lifestyle choices among black people, such as getting married at a "later stage" and cohabitation outside of marriage, now had less stigma attached to them.

"It's not that people are not getting married at all, but for example in urban areas there is a lot of cohabitation...," said Ndebele.

He said the number of households was going up while the average household size was shrinking, which suggested that more people preferred to live on their own or with their unmarried partners.

"On the other hand, children born to unmarried parents are more likely to end up living in single-parent households, which are also more vulnerable to poverty."

He said children raised by married parents were statistically less likely to become teenage parents, delinquents, school drop-outs, and drug or alcohol abusers.