Marriage &
More Australians are marrying but are turning their backs on religious ceremonies, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
    Figures released by the ABS yesterday found for the first time in 1999 more than half of couples were choosing civil rather than religious celebrants.
    The number of marriages grew slightly in 1999 but so did separations, amid estimates that if the present divorce rate continued, 46 per cent of future marriages would fail.
    But while the marriage rate is continuing, the upward trend begun in 1997, the report found an increasing number of Australian men and women were unlikely to choose to marry at all.
    "If the 1995-97 marriage rates were to continue in future, it is estimated that 28 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women will never marry in their lifetimes," it said.
    Demographer Peter Macdonald said the higher marriage level did not reflect a greater respect for the institution.
    "There's some big groups who were born around about 1970 in Australia who are now at the kind of peak marrying ages, and that's the reason why the number of marriages is going up," he said. The ABS figures found more than two thirds of Australian couples lived together before marriage, while just under a million (about 862,000) were satisfied with a de facto relationship.
    More details are on the ABS site at!OpenDocument
22 Sep 00

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