Singapore is a unique city-state with cultural diversity that has gone through tremendous changes in the past 40 years, growing from a sleepy fishing village to one of the most vibrant commercial hubs in the world. As the economy and infrastructure were transformed from pre-industrial to industrial status to position the nation state as a competitive global market player, its divorce rate are also on the rise which is quite alarming with the ranking of 4th among Asian countries. The risk factors that trigger marriage dissolution can be plenty to gradually make it a grave social concern, which involving children, employment, household income, marriage duration, education, the changing social status of Singapore Woman and diverse racial and ethnic characterization etc (Straughan, 2009).
Based on the data availability and literature review of impact factors on divorce(QUAH, 2016), this dashboard applies 5 crucial factors to conduct dashboard visualization and analysis, which involving household income, ethnic group, age group of the couple, marriage duration and employment. Here we identified the business goals and set up KPI.
- Conclude the divorce trends in Singapore over 35 years’ data and make reasonable predictions
- Identify the crucial factors which triggering marriage dissolution and analyze their impacts on divorce rate.
- How long do the marriages last before the divorce?
- what is the age distribution of divorce number?
- How does unemployment influences divorces?
- How does income influences divorces?
- What is the difference in divorce based on the race?
- Duration of marriage before divorces per year
- Divorce number of different age groups
- Annual long-term unemployment rate
- Monthly household income per year
- Yearly racial divorce number
Access here: Dashboard – Divorce Trend in Singapore
Overall Divorce Trends
According to the annual report released by the department of Statistics in Singapore, A total of 7,614 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment in 2016, which indicating as the highest annual figure over 36 years ever since. Both civil and Muslim divorce have contributed to such peak, with up to 1.5% rise from the 7522 marital dissolutions in the previous year.
Comparing to other Asian countries which also suffering from increasing Divorces, Singapore ranks the 4th with both nearly 7 annual divorces per 1000 married males or females respectively.
Hence such high figures on record together with the SmartArt (shown on the left) to perform exploratory analysis on divorces over years is indicating the next peak of this socioeconomic phenomenon in the coming future.
Q1: What is the age-specific distribution of divorce rate within Singapore? Should relevant campaigns or social trend be created to address this situation?
Overall, the number of divorce people has been increasing yearly for all age groups in Singapore. Specifically, people aged in 25-49 consist of the majority of divorce population. It means that middle and middle-late-aged people are more likely to divorce than people in any other age group. It can be reasonable because:
- For young people, since the average age of marriage keeps rising, there are fewer and fewer young people are getting married. Less get married, less divorce.
- For middle and late-middle-aged people, levels of stress were highest among this age group. Children’s education, taking care of parents, career challenge and so forth make people feel anxiety and easily cause couples quarrel and then get into divorce.
- As for the elder people who generally have married for over 20 years, it seems after all these years, couples have adjusted and broken with each other well. Their marriages become more stable and also would be probably less and less willing to divorce as time goes by.
Q2: How long do the marriages last before the divorce?
As we can see, below 5 years marriage duration has the most number of divorces, followed by 5 – 9 years duration. All other duration have significantly lower number of divorces. And a cross-over in year 2010 where 5-9 years duration has more divorces than below 5 years duration, ever since then. Besides, sudden peaks in year 1999 and 2003 across all duration. There are some possible reasons:
- If a couple can ‘tolerate’ each other for 10 years, they are less likely to divorce thereafter.
- The ‘7-year itch’ phenomena is getting more significant in modern times.
- Some events happened around or before 1999 and 2003 could have caused the sudden peaks. The events could have been socio-economic in nature and was widespread and significant enough to affect marriages across all duration.
Q3: How does unemployment influences divorces?
Here we can see there are sudden peaks in long-term unemployment rate from 1997 to 1999 and from 2001 to 2003. This correlates to the sudden peaks in divorces around 1999 and 2003 shown in the previous 2 charts. It can be reasonable because:
- The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had an effect on the economy of Singapore. This in-turn caused long-term unemployment and could have strained the marriages. However, the Singapore well-managed currency recovered the economy quickly and was not affected for long.
- The 2001 terrorist attack on World Trade Center in US affected the global economy and had a bigger effect on Singapore economy than 1997. The effect lasted longer and the unemployment rate took longer to recover. The divorces has a sharper increase than 1997.
Q4: How can median monthly household reflect the total number of divorce?
As we can see from the graph, from 2000 and 2003, the household income is decreasing, meanwhile, the number of divorce people is increasing in a dramatic way. While, according to the analysis of that years, we found that the average level of price was still increasing. The conflict between income and expenditures increased the family burden which affect the harmony of family relationship. After 2005, with the increasing of income, the increase speed of total divorce number was slow down.
Until 2011, when household income broke 7000 dollar per month, the total divorce number tend to be stable. After 2011, although the household was still increased, the total divorce number kept stable. According to this situation, we could draw the conclusion that once the household income per month higher than S$7000, the income may not influence divorce or not.
Q5: What is the difference in divorce based on the race?
Generally speaking, the divorce trends are quite similar between Indian and Chinese. Before 1998, the divorce rate of Chinese is slightly higher than that of Indian. After 1998, the divorce rate of Chinese kept on climbing, while the divorce rate of Indians began to fluctuate between 2.0 and 2.5. From year 2010, the divorce rate for both races seem to fluctuate at a relatively constant rate.
There was a peak around 1998 for Indian and Chinese divorces. The divorce rates increased to form some peaks. There was an Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 that caused many Singaporeans to lose their jobs, the household income decreases, and financial conflicts in the family worsen. Hence in the few years after the Asian financial crisis, the divorce rate increased, then decreased after the crisis has eased.
From the graph, the divorce rate of other races, that consists mainly the Malays, is significantly lower than Indians and Chinese. This could be due to their overall different economic status, social structure and outlook in life in general which are also different from that of the Chinese and Indians.
Further, it is observed that the divorce trend of the other races (mainly Malays) is similar to the divorce trend of Chinese, with a delayed effect of about 5 to 6 years. Hence, we could make a prediction that after 2015, the divorce rate of Other Race will begin to fluctuate at a relatively constant rate, like the trend for Chinese after year 2010.
The general divorce rate in 2016 was unchanged from 2015. However, there was a “prominent shift” in the age profile of divorces towards the older age groups in the last decade. From above discussion we find these main factors which affect divorce:
- Distribution of Ethnic Groups – There is a tendency for different ethnic groups to have particular reasons for divorce. Each ethnic group has experienced different patterns of divorce, degrees of proneness to divorce, and causes for divorce. Although ethnic groups are, to some extent, differentiated by their different socio-economic status in the society, they experience the same processes of social and economic changes and live in the same society. This points to the fact that cultural elements play a crucial role in determining the pattern of divorce and the divorce rate in a society.
- Age Distribution of Divorced Couples – From before studying, we find that the trend suggests that the dangerous age to be involved in divorce was overall increased, it moved from 25-40 to 30-45 years old over the past three decades.
- The Time for Divorce – The mean duration of marriage for the divorced couples in 2016 was 10 years. The distribution of the duration indicated that more divorce took place around the fifth to ninth year of marriage, which accounted for 29.9 per cent of the total divorces. Generally speaking, after five to nine years of marriage, the husband has usually established himself, and the family is better off. At this stage, the wife does not keep up with her husband’s status. This may cause the breakdown of a number of marriages.
- Household Income & Unemployment Rate – Money issues could be another main reason of divorce. Finance stress can cause marital problems, and marital problems can result in divorce. The correlation between income and divorce isn’t quite that clear cut, however. It indicates that financial problems are directly linked to marital problems, other factors may help contribute to whether those problems ultimately bring about divorce.
Other Crucial Impact Factors on Divorce & Suggestions
The dashboard was limited to only certain kinds of information available, as the actual results reveal more variables related to divorce proneness. The following are some other variables which would affect the marriages :
- Number of Children of the Divorced Couples – Divorce proneness is correlated with childlessness. Childless couples apparently separated more frequently and earlier than couples with children. Childlessness may be a cause of divorce, but it may just as well be a consequence of marital instability or disharmony that leads to divorce.
- Divorce and Occupation – In Singapore, there did find some correlations between divorce proneness and occupational groups. There was a positive correlation between occupational status and proneness to divorces. Those who were at higher occupational status were more prone to divorce.
Divorce is a form of marital instability and a type of family dissolution. It is a complicated process which involves multi-dimensional factors, both intra-familial personal factors and extra-familial socio-cultural factors. There are some suggestions on rising divorce rate:
- Having marriage counselling programmes for couples in a difficult marriage situation could be a good idea, since married couples attending the programmes may be able to work the differences out and eventually decide against a divorce. These marriage-related programmes does enhance the overall quality of marriages and also improves relationship building skills amongst married couples.
- Taking into account the current divorce trends, perhaps more comprehensive marriage preparation programmes and seminars for couples preparing for their wedding can be conducted by MSF, community-centered organizations and relevant religious groups to help couples better understand topics such as communication, conflict management, commitment and problem-solving to build stronger and more lasting marriage unions.
Data Sources & References
- Straughan, P. (2009). Marriage dissolution in Singapore. Leiden: Brill.
- QUAH, S. (2016). PERSPECTIVES ON MARITAL DISSOLUTION. SPRINGER.
- Ling, T. C. (1975). A sociological analysis of divorce in Singapore. Asian Journal of Social Science, 3(1), 61-84.
Team Members(Team 18)
Li Hangxing A0163265E
Li Ruiqi A0163293A
Lim Chong Wui A0163460L
Shi Haiyuan A0163313R
Yao Meng A0163312U