Social Impact of Falling Marriage Rates


Schools, travel plans, and work schedules aren’t the only things that need to get back to normal after nearly three years of COVID-induced disruption. Marriage also needs to get on track.

The number of marriages in Canada hit a historic low in 2020, with registered marriages down 33% from the previous year. It can be called a pandemic’s great pause in family formation. It’s no surprise that these numbers have declined during lockdowns and other restrictions, but Cardus is asking what happens next.

One of the changes is that Statistics Canada will resume regular publication of marriage rates across the country. The latest figures are the first in almost a decade the authorities have released. It also follows the reopening of divorce rate data earlier this year. Hopefully this means a permanent return of this important data.

More importantly, the latest figures may make you wonder why marriage rates have been declining for decades.

The proportion of adults living in the common law is increasing. Statistically, this type of relationship breaks up more often than marriage. The proportion of adults not in partnerships and living alone is also rising. This includes adults of marriageable age.

Of course, these are personal decisions. But they have public consequences.

For example, according to the 2021 Census, 60% of children are growing up in homes with married parents. But that’s down from her 73% in the late 1990s. Great children grow up in different types of homes. Decades of data also show that adults’ romantic partnership decisions influence children’s lives. have been found to be associated with fewer problems with the law and teenage pregnancy.

Couples have fewer children because fewer adults find partners and form families later in life. It’s also a choice, but there is some evidence that many of us are having fewer children than we would like.

Canada’s gross fertility rate (the number of children a woman is likely to have in her lifetime) has fallen to a historic low of 1.40 in 2020. A fertility rate of about 2.1 is required to replace the population without the help of immigrants. Canada has no replacement fertility since 1971.

Divorce rates dropped 25% between 2019 and 2020. Divorce rates were already dropping, as were marriages. Declining divorces in non-pandemic circumstances may sound like a good thing, but the main reason for this decline is that fewer Canadians are getting married. So while less divorce is a good thing, it could possibly indicate less marriage.

But all the numbers come down to this. Marriage is important. for all of us.

Fewer marriages and slower family formation may mean fewer Canadians are meeting their family and fertility needs. This can be detrimental to an individual’s happiness and well-being, but some Canadians are willing to skip marriage, children, or both.

A stable family is a building block of community and society. There are growing concerns about our ability to support an aging population, both with physical care and with the financial support of generous social programs. Families are at the forefront of childcare, caregiving and financial security. .

Economic and demographic concerns are important, but when children fade into the background, we as a society lose something.Our society is better because of our children.

The pandemic’s impact on family formation should spur us to think about larger trends in family life in Canada.

© troy media

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

Peter John Mitchell


Peter John Mitchell is Acting Program Director for The Cardus Family. He has been researching Canadian families for over ten years. His work at Cardus includes reports such as “Millennials in Canada and the Value of Marriage” and “Supporting Natural Caregivers: Innovative Ideas Around the World”.