Aussies vs Canadians, who did it better?
How do we compare to our cold-climate cousins, the Canadians?
The results may surprise you, they certainly did me!
Like us, they occupy a vast country with extreme temperatures, except in the opposite direction!
We are comparable in population size and demographics, not to mention the Queen who graces our countries’ currency.
In raw numbers, Canada had 156,000 marriages in 2017. Australians had 112,000 marriages, but of course, we have the smaller population.
So the way to make a more relevant comparison is by the crude marriage rate or the number of people married per 1000.
Australia has a crude marriage rate of 4.6 per 1000, and the hockey-loving Canadians reported 4.4 marriages per 1000 in their most recent stats.
In 2017, 78% of marriages in Australia were performed by Civil Celebrants rather than religious clergy, an increase of 3% over the year before, and 28% since 2001 when civil weddings first began to outnumber religious weddings.
Contrast that with Canada where only 35% of marriages were performed by Civil Celebrants rather than religious clergy, nonetheless an increase of 11.4% since 2001, when 23.6% of all weddings were non-religious.
Interestingly, in 2017 the trend amongst 18-34-year-old Canadians who said, “I do” in a civil ceremony was 53% and amongst the 35-54-year-old age set, that figure was 42%. 3
In both countries, Civil Celebrants have an increasingly important role in the community marking life’s milestones of births, marriages and deaths.
So how old are Australians and Canadians when tying the knot for the first time?
In the Lucky Country, the median age at marriage for males is 32.0 years, for females it is 30.1 years.
In 2016, for Canadians, it was 29.6 years for women and 31.6 years for men. Hardly a difference between us at all, despite being literally an ocean apart!
Notably, Canada have had same-sex marriage since 2005. In May 2006, their census counted 7,465 married same‑sex couples. This number more than tripled in the decade that followed.
Australia has watched the Canadian experience very closely, not least by Civil Celebrants.
For some it has been a boon, for others a test of conscience. Canada has both positive and negative lessons to pass on to Australia in that regard.
What about divorce? How long do marriages last in the Great White North?
When it comes to divorce there is some good news for the Commonwealths.
The results are that marriages are more successful, lasting longer, with the divorce rate trending lower.
One reason for the lower divorce rate can be attributed to couples marrying later in life and are old enough to understand if they really get along with someone or are just blinded by hormones.
Another reason may be the majority of couples cohabitating before committing to marriage.
In Australia, 78% of recently married couples lived together prior to marriage and in Canada cohabitation before marriage is increasingly the norm.
Again, the crude divorce rate, or number of divorces per 1000 people, is basically the same for both countries, just 2, down from 3 and 4 in the 90s . 1
In Canada, the average duration of marriage for persons who finalized their divorce in 2008 was 13.7 years, for Australia, the average was 12 years. 2
Who would you guess to live longer?
Amazingly, life expectancy statistics for both countries are identical, 80 for men and 84 for women in 2018!
To sum up, it would appear that having the Queen on your currency says a lot!
But seriously, how do two geographically distant populations mirror each other so closely in changing marriage practices, and life-expectancy?!
It would be very strange if not for the fact that the same forces that are affecting life in two countries are affecting life in most developed countries today.
Greater access to education, health and medical facilities, strong employment and access to personal finance, not to mention information technology and the digital economy, have transformed life across our planet.
One hundred years ago you were just as likely to marry the boy or girl from your town, tribe, religion or village as your parents had before you.
Nowadays, Millennials are known for finding their “tribe” and partners online, and that is just as likely to be British Columbia as it is Brisbane!
It is in these diverse circumstances affected by successive waves of migration from every part of the world that Civil Celebrants are called upon by communities, new and old, to mark life’s most poignant moments.