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Indicators of Well-being in Canada


Family Life - Marriage

Relevance

When couples get married, they formalize their union and family unit, having this recognized by law and possibly by a faith community. The life event of marriage is marked by a legal or a religious wedding ceremony. Marriage may involve caring for one another, having children, pooling financial resources, and sharing social networks. The family is an essential building block in Canadian society and serves fundamental social and economic roles (earning, caring, parenting, reproduction, and participating in community). 

The marriage indicator measures marriages that took place in a given year (new first marriages and remarriages). It does not include common-law unions, another type of family formation, or marriages that took place in previous years.                         

Summary

  • National Picture — In 2008, there were 147,288 marriages in Canada. At 4.4 marriages per 1,000 people, the marriage rate was at the lowest level it has been in the last century.
  • Age and Gender — Canadians who marry do so at an older age than ever before. Between 1972 and 2008, the average age at first marriage increased from 22.5 to 29.1 for women and from 24.9 to 31.1 for men.
  • Regions — In 2008, the marriage rates of Nunavut (2.5), the Northwest Territories (2.7) and Quebec (2.9) were all significantly below the national average (4.4). 
  • International Picture — Each of the G8 member countries experienced declines in marriage rates since the mid-1970s.

National Picture

In 2008, 147,288 marriages occurred in Canada[1]. After having decreased almost continually since the beginning of the 1970s, the marriage rate was only 4.4 marriages per 1,000 people in 2008. This is less than half the level it was in 1972 (9.2 marriages) and represents an historic low, even lower than that reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s (5.9 marriages in 1932).

After the Depression, the rate reached almost 11 marriages per 1,000 people in the first couple of years (1940-1942) of World War II and immediately after the war (1946). The marriage rate peaked again in the 1970s, as the baby boom generation entered adulthood. The recent declines in the marriage rate have been accompanied by increases in the proportion of common-law households[2] (see also Canadians in Context).  


This Chart contains data for Marriages, Canada, 1921-2008. Information is available in table below 2008 = 4.4 2007 = 4.5 2006 = 4.6 2005 = 4.6 2004 = 4.6 2003 = 4.7 2002 = 4.7 2001 = 4.7 2000 = 5.1 1999 = 5.1 1998 = 5.1 1997 = 5.1 1996 = 5.3 1995 = 5.5 1994 = 5.5 1993 = 5.6 1992 = 5.8 1991 = 6.1 1990 = 6.8 1989 = 7 1988 = 7 1987 = 6.9 1986 = 6.7 1985 = 7.1 1984 = 7.2 1983 = 7.3 1982 = 7.5 1981 = 7.7 1980 = 7.8 1979 = 7.8 1978 = 7.9 1977 = 8 1976 = 8.4 1975 = 8.7 1974 = 8.9 1973 = 9 1972 = 9.2 1971 = 8.9 1970 = 8.8 1969 = 8.7 1968 = 8.3 1967 = 8.1 1966 = 7.8 1965 = 7.4 1964 = 7.2 1963 = 6.9 1962 = 7 1961 = 7 1960 = 7.3 1959 = 7.6 1958 = 7.7 1957 = 8 1956 = 8.3 1955 = 8.2 1954 = 8.4 1953 = 8.8 1952 = 8.9 1951 = 9.2 1950 = 9.1 1949 = 9.2 1948 = 9.6 1947 = 10.1 1946 = 10.9 1945 = 9 1944 = 8.5 1943 = 9.4 1942 = 10.9 1941 = 10.6 1940 = 10.8 1939 = 9.2 1938 = 7.9 1937 = 7.9 1936 = 7.4 1935 = 7.1 1934 = 6.8 1933 = 6 1932 = 5.9 1931 = 6.4 1930 = 7 1929 = 7.7 1928 = 7.5 1927 = 7.2 1926 = 7 1925 = 6.9 1924 = 7.1 1923 = 7.3 1922 = 7.2 1921 = 7.9 (per 1,000 people) Marriages, Canada, 1921-2008

Note: Since 2003, the definition of marriage has been changed in some provinces and territories and since 2005 for all of Canada, to include the legal union of two persons of the same sex.

Source: For 1921 to 1978: Statistics Canada. Marriage and conjugal life in Canada. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1992. (Cat. No. 91-534E); for 1979 to 1999: Statistics Canada, Health Canada Statistics Division. Marriages 1999, Shelf Tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2003. (Cat. No. 84F0212XPB); for 2000 to 2004: Statistics Canada. Crude marriage rates, all marriages, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (rates per 1,000 population) (CANSIM Table 101-1004). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008; and for 2005-2008: Statistics Canada. Canadian Vital Statistics, Marriage Database and Demography Division (population estimates), Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Marriages, Canada, 1921-2008 (per 1,000 people)
1921192219231924192519261927192819291930193119321933193419351936193719381939194019411942194319441945194619471948194919501951195219531954195519561957195819591960196119621963196419651966196719681969197019711972197319741975197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008
7.97.27.37.16.977.27.57.776.45.966.87.17.47.97.99.210.810.610.99.48.5910.910.19.69.29.19.28.98.88.48.28.387.77.67.3776.97.27.47.88.18.38.78.88.99.298.98.78.487.97.87.87.77.57.37.27.16.76.9776.86.15.85.65.55.55.35.15.15.15.14.74.74.74.64.64.64.54.4

Age and Gender

In 2008, the average age at first marriage for men was 31.1 years and for women 29.1 years. This was higher than over the previous decades, including the 1930s and 1940s when the average age at first marriage peaked at about 28 years for men, and 25 years for women. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the age at first marriage declined to just over 22 years for women and 25 years for men.


This Chart contains data for Average age at first marriage, by gender, 1921-2008. Information is available in table below 2008 (Men) = 31.1 2007 (Men) = 31 2006 (Men) = 30.9 2005 (Men) = 30.6 2004 (Men) = 30.5 2003 (Men) = 30.2 2002 (Men) = 29.8 2001 (Men) = 29.7 2000 (Men) = 29.5 1999 (Men) = 29.11 1998 (Men) = 28.92 1997 (Men) = 28.76 1996 (Men) = 28.61 1995 (Men) = 28.41 1994 (Men) = 28.25 1993 (Men) = 28.18 1992 (Men) = 28 1991 (Men) = 27.77 1990 (Men) = 27.6 1989 (Men) = 27.58 1988 (Men) = 27.49 1987 (Men) = 27.3 1986 (Men) = 27 1985 (Men) = 26.8 1984 (Men) = 26.6 1983 (Men) = 26.3 1982 (Men) = 26.1 1981 (Men) = 25.9 1980 (Men) = 25.7 1979 (Men) = 25.6 1978 (Men) = 25.5 1977 (Men) = 25.4 1976 (Men) = 25.3 1975 (Men) = 25.1 1974 (Men) = 25 1973 (Men) = 25 1972 (Men) = 24.9 1971 (Men) = 25 1970 (Men) = 25.1 1969 (Men) = 25.1 1968 (Men) = 25.1 1967 (Men) = 25.1 1966 (Men) = 25.1 1965 (Men) = 25.2 1964 (Men) = 25.2 1963 (Men) = 25.2 1962 (Men) = 25.2 1961 (Men) = 25.3 1960 (Men) = 25.4 1959 (Men) = 25.4 1958 (Men) = 25.5 1957 (Men) = 25.6 1956 (Men) = 25.7 1955 (Men) = 25.8 1954 (Men) = 25.9 1953 (Men) = 26 1952 (Men) = 26.2 1951 (Men) = 26.3 1950 (Men) = 26.6 1949 (Men) = 26.9 1948 (Men) = 26.9 1947 (Men) = 27 1946 (Men) = 27.2 1945 (Men) = 27.5 1944 (Men) = 27.8 1943 (Men) = 27.7 1942 (Men) = 28.1 1941 (Men) = 28.1 1940 (Men) = 28.2 1939 (Men) = 28.2 1938 (Men) = 28.3 1937 (Men) = 28.3 1936 (Men) = 28.2 1935 (Men) = 28 1934 (Men) = 27.9 1933 (Men) = 27.8 1932 (Men) = 27.8 1931 (Men) = 27.7 1930 (Men) = 27.7 1929 (Men) = 27.6 1928 (Men) = 27.6 1927 (Men) = 27.6 1926 (Men) = 27.7 1925 (Men) = 27.4 1924 (Men) = 27.8 1923 (Men) = 27.8 1922 (Men) = 27.8 1921 (Men) = 28 2008 (Women) = 29.1 2007 (Women) = 29 2006 (Women) = 28.9 2005 (Women) = 28.7 2004 (Women) = 28.5 2003 (Women) = 28.2 2002 (Women) = 27.8 2001 (Women) = 27.7 2000 (Women) = 27.5 1999 (Women) = 27.21 1998 (Women) = 27 1997 (Women) = 26.85 1996 (Women) = 26.68 1995 (Women) = 26.47 1994 (Women) = 26.26 1993 (Women) = 26.2 1992 (Women) = 26.02 1991 (Women) = 25.76 1990 (Women) = 25.54 1989 (Women) = 25.37 1988 (Women) = 25.21 1987 (Women) = 25 1986 (Women) = 24.7 1985 (Women) = 24.5 1984 (Women) = 24.4 1983 (Women) = 24.1 1982 (Women) = 23.9 1981 (Women) = 23.7 1980 (Women) = 23.5 1979 (Women) = 23.3 1978 (Women) = 23.2 1977 (Women) = 23.1 1976 (Women) = 22.9 1975 (Women) = 22.8 1974 (Women) = 22.7 1973 (Women) = 22.6 1972 (Women) = 22.5 1971 (Women) = 22.6 1970 (Women) = 22.7 1969 (Women) = 22.7 1968 (Women) = 22.6 1967 (Women) = 22.5 1966 (Women) = 22.6 1965 (Women) = 22.6 1964 (Women) = 22.6 1963 (Women) = 22.5 1962 (Women) = 22.5 1961 (Women) = 22.6 1960 (Women) = 22.6 1959 (Women) = 22.7 1958 (Women) = 22.7 1957 (Women) = 22.8 1956 (Women) = 22.9 1955 (Women) = 23.1 1954 (Women) = 23.1 1953 (Women) = 23.2 1952 (Women) = 23.3 1951 (Women) = 23.4 1950 (Women) = 23.6 1949 (Women) = 23.8 1948 (Women) = 23.9 1947 (Women) = 24 1946 (Women) = 24.1 1945 (Women) = 24.4 1944 (Women) = 24.6 1943 (Women) = 24.5 1942 (Women) = 24.9 1941 (Women) = 24.9 1940 (Women) = 24.9 1939 (Women) = 24.9 1938 (Women) = 24.9 1937 (Women) = 24.9 1936 (Women) = 24.7 1935 (Women) = 24.6 1934 (Women) = 24.4 1933 (Women) = 24.3 1932 (Women) = 24.2 1931 (Women) = 24.3 1930 (Women) = 24.2 1929 (Women) = 24.2 1928 (Women) = 24.2 1927 (Women) = 24.2 1926 (Women) = 24.3 1925 (Women) = 24.2 1924 (Women) = 24.2 1923 (Women) = 24.3 1922 (Women) = 24.4 1921 (Women) = 24.5 (years) Average age at first marriage, by gender, 1921-2008

Note: Since 2003, the definition of marriage has been changed in some provinces and territories, and since 2005 for all of Canada, to include the legal union of two persons of the same sex. Age at first marriage for same-sex couples has been higher than for opposite-sex couples.

Source: For 1921 to 1987: Statistics Canada. Marriage and conjugal life in Canada. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1992. (Cat. No. 91-534E); for 1988 to 1999: Statistics Canada, Demography Division; for 2000 to 2004: Statistics Canada. Mean age and median age of males and females, by type of marriage and marital status, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (CANSIM Table 101-1002). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008; and for 2005-2008: Statistics Canada. Canadian Vital Statistics, Marriage Database and Demography Division (population estimates), Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average age at first marriage, by gender, 1921-2008 (years)
1921192219231924192519261927192819291930193119321933193419351936193719381939194019411942194319441945194619471948194919501951195219531954195519561957195819591960196119621963196419651966196719681969197019711972197319741975197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008
Men2827.827.827.827.427.727.627.627.627.727.727.827.827.92828.228.328.328.228.228.128.127.727.827.527.22726.926.926.626.326.22625.925.825.725.625.525.425.425.325.225.225.225.225.125.125.125.125.12524.9252525.125.325.425.525.625.725.926.126.326.626.82727.327.4927.5827.627.772828.1828.2528.4128.6128.7628.9229.1129.529.729.830.230.530.630.93131.1
Women24.524.424.324.224.224.324.224.224.224.224.324.224.324.424.624.724.924.924.924.924.924.924.524.624.424.12423.923.823.623.423.323.223.123.122.922.822.722.722.622.622.522.522.622.622.622.522.622.722.722.622.522.622.722.822.923.123.223.323.523.723.924.124.424.524.72525.2125.3725.5425.7626.0226.226.2626.4726.6826.852727.2127.527.727.828.228.528.728.92929.1

Regions

In 2008, there were wide variations in the marriage rates among the provinces and territories in Canada. Nunavut had the lowest marriage rate in Canada that year with 2.5 marriages per 1,000 people. The Northwest Territories and Quebec followed closely with 2.7 and 2.9 marriages per 1,000 people, respectively. Prince Edward Island had the highest marriage rate at 6.8.


This Chart contains data for Marriages, by region, 2008. Information is available in table below NU = 2.5 NT = 2.7 YT = 4.0 BC = 5.2 AB = 5.3 SK = 5.3 MB = 4.7 ON = 4.7 QC = 2.9 NB = 4.9 NS = 4.9 PE = 6.8 NL = 5.3 CAN = 4.4 (per 1,000 people) Marriages, by region, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Vital Statistics, Marriage Database and Demography Division (population estimates), Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Marriages, by region, 2008 (per 1,000 people)
CANNLPENSNBQCONMBSKABBCYTNTNU
4.45.36.84.94.92.94.74.75.35.35.24.02.72.5

International Picture

In 2008, Canada's marriage rate was similar to the rates in the European G8 member countries. Japan, the United States and Russia had the highest rates. As well, the decline in marriage rates was not unique to Canada. All of the G8 countries have experienced a decline since 1975. Canada's decrease was greater than any other G8 country from 1975 to 2008.


This Chart contains data for Marriages, G8 countries, 1975 and 2008. Information is available in table below United States (2008) = 7.1 United States (1975) = 10.0 Russia (2008) = 8.3 Russia (1975) = 10.7 Japan (2008) = 5.8 Japan (1975) = 8.4 United Kingdon (2008) = 4.4 United Kingdon (1975) = 7.7 Germany (2008) = 4.6 Germany (1975) = 6.7 France (2008) = 4.3 France (1975) = 7.3 Italy (2008) = 4.2 Italy (1975) = 6.7 Canada (2008) = 4.4 Canada (1975) = 8.7 (per 1,000 people) Marriages, G8 countries, 1975 and 2008

Note: Russia refers to the Russian Federation. The rate for 1975 refers to the former U.S.S.R. The rate for Germany in 1975 combines data for both the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (former West Germany).

Source: For Canada 1975: Statistics Canada. Marriage and conjugal life in Canada). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1992. (Cat. No. 91-534E) ; for Germany 1975 (including both former republics): Eurostat Data Explorer (accessed in September, 2011); for other G8 1975: United Nations. 1976 Demographic Yearbook (accessed in September, 2011); for Canada 2008: Statistics Canada. Crude marriage rates, all marriages, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (rates per 1,000 population) CANSIM Table 101-1004; for the United Kingdom 2008: Eurostat Data Explorer (accessed in September, 2011); and for other G8 countries 2008: United Nations. Marriages and crude marriage rates, by urban/rural residence: 2004 - 2008 (accessed in September, 2011).


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Marriages, G8 countries, 1975 and 2008 (per 1,000 people)
CanadaItalyFranceGermanyUnited KingdonJapanRussiaUnited States
19758.76.77.36.77.78.410.710.0
20084.44.24.34.64.45.88.37.1

Footnotes

  1. Statistics Canada. Marriages, by type of marriage and month, Canada, provinces and territories, annual. (CANSIM Table 101-1001). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.

    [Back to Text]
  2. Statistics Canada. 2006. Report on the demographic situation in Canada - 2003 and 2004. Catalogue no. 91-209-XIE.

    [Back to Text]

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Date Modified:
2014-10-22