Thursday, 24 July 2008

Australians are staying married for longer

AUSTRALIANS are ditching the seven-year itch and staying married for longer.

The divorce rate has fallen to its lowest point in a decade, ABS Social Trends Statistics released yesterday show.

The divorce rate per 1000 people has fallen from 2.8 in 1997 to 2.5 in 2006 after hitting a decade-high of 2.9 in 2001.

In the past decade the number of divorces has fallen from 51,4000 nationally in 1996 to 51,300 in 1996.

In 1996 we were married an average of 7.7 years before separating, but we now stay together for 8.9 years - a decade-long high.

But divorce continues to have a major impact on kids - with around 50,000 children involved in divorce every year. However women are having fewer babies, and having them at a later age.

In 2006, 11 per cent of women in their mid 40s had four or more babies, compared to 35 per cent of women this age in 1976.

In 2006 more than one-third of women in their early 30s had not had any children.

Between 1995 and 2005 the number of women having their first baby at 35 increased from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

In 1976 women had an average of 3.1 children each, but by 2006 they were having just 2.0 babies, which is below the population replacement level.

Women are increasingly swapping babies for briefcases, entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers. In 1976, 55 per cent of women worked outside of the home, but by 2006, 70 per cent of women had a paid job.

Australia's Muslim women are having more babies, the figures also reveal.

They have 2.9 babies each on average, compared to just two for non-Islamic Australian women, but there is little difference between the birth rates of Catholic and Anglican women.

Women from those religions average 2.1 babies each.

West Brunswick mother of two-year-old twins, Emilia Berryman, reflects the trend towards older mums. She is now 38 and had Jack and Thomas when she was 35.

"I guess I met my husband later in life, but it was after I had done a lot of travelling and other things," Ms Berryman said.

They now plan to have a third child. She has taken redundancy to become a full-time mum.

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