Girls, don't wait too long to get hitched

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2005, 12:00am

Men and women are marrying later, but women who leave it too late could find themselves competing for a dwindling number of mates, statistics show.

Last year there were 929 men for every 1,000 women in the city, compared with 1,087 in 1981, the Census and Statistics Department said yesterday. In that time, the median age of women marrying for the first time has climbed from 23.9 years to 28.1 years and for men, from 27 to 31.1 years.

The marriages that did take place are however becoming increasingly fragile, with the annual number of divorces soaring from 2,062 to 15,604 between 1981 and last year.

The report suggests that men and women marry later because they study before going out to work.

The median age of a woman having her first child rose from 25.1 in 1981 to 29.4 in 2003 and 2004.

The number of men and women remaining unmarried has been steadily rising. Between 1986 and last year, the number of women who had never married increased from 622,100 to 882,500.

The number of men who have never married has increased from 847,100 to 926,600 during the same period.

There has also been a striking increase in the number of women in the workforce.

From 1986 to last year, the female working population grew 58.9 per cent, while the male working population rose just 14.5 per cent.

Fewer women than men were unemployed. Last year the unemployed rates among women and men were 5.6 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively. But more women than men are receiving welfare.

There were 282,909 female welfare recipients last year, compared with 259,108 male recipients.

The income of men remained higher than that of women between 2001 and last year.

But both groups saw their monthly wage fall. The median monthly wage for working women decreased from $10,000 to $9,000, while men saw their wage fall from $12,000 to $11,000.