The percentage of non-Māori women aged 20–24 who were never married rose rapidly in the 1880s and stabilised at about 70% between 1890 and the early 1940s. The percentage of unmarried women in this age group dropped rapidly in the period after the Second World War as women married earlier. It rose again in the late 1970s as more women delayed marriage or chose not to marry. By the begining of the 21st century, over 80% of women in this age group had never married.
Information is only available for Māori women from the 1920s, but similar trends are evident for the period 1940–2000. The percentage of Māori women in their early 20s who were never married dropped in the late 1940s as more women married in their teens. From the late 1970s the percentage rose steeply, and in the early 2000s exceeded that of non-Māori women.
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Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2013 Census; Ian Pool, Arunachalam Dharmalingam, and Janet Sceats, The New Zealand family from 1840: a demographic history. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007, table 2.1