Since the end of the Second World War, some developed countries and regions saw a continuous rise in the median age of first marriage for both men and women in their societies.
Denmark, Spain, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Sweden, whose GDP per capita vary significantly from one another, for example, all shared a similar and relatively high median age of first marriage among their populations in 2015, with men getting married for the first time at the age of 34 on average and women at 31.7.
Some have attributed the prevailing trend of getting married later among Europeans to factors such as a decline in the importance of marriage from a religious standpoint, and the perception among an increasing number of young Europeans that de facto relationships are more convenient and cost-effective than marriages, as well as the fact that more and more single people are put off by the soaring number of divorce cases in society.
On the other hand, studies also showed that nearly half of the population in Australia and the United States is not married, despite the fact that the median age of first marriage among Australians and Americans is not particularly high compared to that of Europeans.
Interestingly, studies also indicated that nearly 90 percent of Americans who are married claimed that they did so due to love, but 25 percent also admitted that they got married for benefits, financial stability and legal entitlements.
Comparing different places, the median age of first marriage among Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore is generally lower than that in Europe, with the average age for first-time marriers being 30.8 for men, and 28.9 for women.
What is more, the figures have not significantly illustrated the popular myth that nowadays Asian women are getting married much later in their life than before due to western cultural influence.Undeniably, marriage should be seen as part of the universal values, and it should be based on love rather than anything else.
However, while single women in Asian cultures are often stigmatized, including in our society, I believe women in Hong Kong should never feel frustrated with late marriages.
It is because while marriages based on love don’t always work out, marriages based on the pursuit of material comforts will almost certainly fail. Besides, there is a lot more to life than marriage.
Seeking a fulfilling, meaningful or rewarding de facto relationship is not as difficult as many people think. All it takes is the resolve to take the first positive step.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 3
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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