Fewer Canadians tying the knot

Wedding photo (© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Kzenon)

Statistics Canada is reporting that marriage in Canada is on the decline.

It, said almost three in four Canadians aged 25 to 64 live with a partner but marriage rates have declined in recent decades. The federal agency said living common law, separation and divorce have become increasingly common.

“A growing number of Canadians have experienced separation and divorce,” wrote Statistics Canada in a report May 1. “Each of these life changes can have an impact not only on the individual themselves but also on other members of their family.”

The General Social Survey (GSS) provides important detailed information on these experiences, including data on living common law before marriage and re-partnering after separation or divorce.

Stats Canada reports of the 19.9 million people aged 25 to 64 in Canada in 2017, the majority were married (56%) or living common law (15 per cent). The data also showed that 13 per cent had never been married or lived common law, six per cent were separated or divorced from a marriage, eight per cent were separated from a common-law union and one per cent were widowed and not in a new union.

“There has been a shift towards common-law living in recent years,” added the agency. “According to the census, over one-fifth of all couples (21.3 per cent) were living common law in 2016, more than three times the share in 1981 (6.3 per cent).”

Whether in marriages or common-law relationships, Stats Canada said women tend to partner at an earlier age than men. According to the 2017 GSS, women were 28 years old, on average, when they married their current spouse and 31 years old, on average, at the start of their current common-law union. By comparison, men, on average, were aged 30 at the start of their current marriage and 32 years of age when entering their current common-law relationship.

The report also showed that more people are living common law before marriage.

“Many adults now choose to live common law before marriage,” the numbers showed. “According to the 2017 GSS, 39 per cent of married 25 to 64-year-olds lived common law with their current spouse before tying the knot.”

This was up from 25 per cent in 2006.

Those who had lived common law with their spouse had done it for an average of 3.6 years prior to marrying, which is up from 2.5 years in 2006.

More information on separation and divorce and re-partnering after divorce and separation for the population aged 55 and older will be released in late May and June.