Changing attitudes and demographics

I blogged a while back about marriage and divorce rates and based on census results. I still think that’s pretty interesting stuff. Then today, I noticed a story showing how 8% fewer South Africans were married in 2010 compared to 2003 even while the population continues to grow.

The result reflects a significant decrease in the rate of marriage. Of course this still isn’t the whole story. It should be fairly obvious to everyone that the rate of marriage is not constant across age – and that was a big part of my earlier posts on marriage. So as the population pyramid of South Africa changes, we would expect a difference in the overall rate of marriage even if the rates per age themselves didn’t change.

The analysis we really need is a “hazard rate” type analysis fitting marriage rates per age (and probably by race group given the significant differences by race) and then seeing whether these rate are changing.

The linked story also points to a 42% decline in customary marriages and a much smaller 4% decrease in civil unions. This then probably reflects a separate trend fundamentally away from more traditional approaches to more “modern” (no judgement attached!) approaches. If one considers the marriage rates in Northern Europe are massively lower than in more developing markets, I’d put money on this trend continuing in South Africa for a long while and with at least as big an impact.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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