Story: Families: a history

Age at first marriage, 1935–2017

This graph illustrates the trend towards marriage at a younger age in the 1960s and 1970s for both women and men. The median age at first marriage (the mid-point above which 50% of people marrying for the first time are located) was 27 years for men and 24 years for women in 1935. It dropped to 23.1 years for men and 20.9 years for women in 1970, but rose steadily in the 1980s reaching 30.2 years for men and 29 years for women in 2017.

Many people in the early 21st century formed long-term cohabiting relationships during their 20s, but elected not to marry. For this reason, recent trends in age at first marriage do not represent the median age at which young adults set up households with intimate partners.

Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Marriages, Civil Unions, and Divorces: Year ended December 2017

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ian Pool and Rosemary Du Plessis, 'Families: a history - Baby boom continues: 1960s – early 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/graph/30214/age-at-first-marriage-1935-2017 (accessed 22 September 2020)

Story by Ian Pool and Rosemary Du Plessis, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Jul 2017