This page contains news for
the period Monday, December 06, 1999 through Sunday, December 12, 1999.
<< December 1999 >>
Sunday, December 12,
Singapore promotes marriage in
effort to boost nation's birth rate
A story released today by the Associated Press
reports that government matchmakers are trying to sell younger Singaporeans on the idea of
getting married in a bid to boost the nation's falling birth rate.
The Social Development Unit is targeting university students who are
too busy studying to socialize, government-controlled TV said Sunday.
The SDU sets up group activities, pen pal services and even Internet
sites in attempt to help shy singles find mates in the conservative, hardworking
It will add seminars for undergraduates and urge parents to help
children view marriage more positively.
"Ultimately, marriage is one of life's goals,'' SDU director
Susan Chan said in the report carried by Singapore's Channel News Asia.
Earlier government campaigns to slow Singapore's birth rate proved
too successful. Recorded births dipped from 47,510 in 1997 to 43,970 last year in the
island republic of 3.2 million.
Single mothers in
Australia often stereotyped unfairly
A story published today in the Sunday
Telegraph says that single mothers are often given a bum rap when they are unfairly
stereotyped in a negative manner.
For example, it was just such a stereotype that Melissa Taylor
couldn't seem to shake.
The tall, blonde, over-achieving executive from Vaucluse only had to
list her "other" occupation for mouths to fall open.
"I'm a single mother," she would say to the private school
her son attends, or business clients, or men she met at parties. "And their mouths
would just drop open," she laughs.
"They'd say: 'But you don't look like a single mother.'
Whatever that means."
What that means, say the experts, is that many people believe that
single mothers are teenage girls on welfare young women who will go on to have
several children, perhaps to several different fathers.
The story notes that the reality of the situation is vastly
different. Less than 3 per cent of Australian single mums are teenagers, with almost 70
per cent aged 30 and over.
And, increasingly, it is older career women with independent lives
who are taking on the challenges of motherhood.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in seven
babies is now born to a woman not living with a partner and 28 per cent of children are
born to unmarried mothers.
And while the "teenager on the make" myth still prevails,
many kids growing up in single-parent homes are with mothers who are divorced, most of
whom will also work outside the home.
"Some people just haven't caught up with how families have
changed," says Melissa, a magazine publisher who has raised nine-year-old son Daniel
alone since he was born.
The accomplished 29-year-old is financially and practically
comfortable, she says, managing to run a busy career and a close, loving home, while still
finding time to complete an MBA by correspondence, go to the gym and play basketball.
"I find it's a sympathy thing with some people it's
like, 'Oh, you poor thing. How do you cope?"' she says. "But I think I have a
Single mothers have a lot of public pressure to cope with, says
Interrelate spokesman and counsellor Philip Dart. He says that sole parents often feel
they have to perform better than two-parent families, and they can find it hard to meet
people on a social level.
Practical Parenting editor Sheryn George, who is married with a
baby, says an increasing number of women are choosing to have children alone.
"The myth is that single parenthood is terrible because you
will be stressed and poor, but we are in an age where women have the financial capacity
and independence to make the choice to go it alone," she says.
Friday, December 10, 1999
A story published today in the
London Telegraph reports that same-sex couples could be given the same tenant survivor
rights as heterosexuals now have in Scotland, following a decision yesterday to award them
identical privileges when caring for incapacitated adults.
Same-sex couples may get "nearest
relative" status in Scotland; housing rights to follow
A provision to extend the rights of homosexuals to include tenancy
could be included in the Scottish Executive's forthcoming Housing Bill. Jim Wallace, the
justice minister, said that a clause to alter the rights of homosexuals looking after
physically or mentally handicapped partners to bring them into line with heterosexuals
would be inserted into the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Bill currently going through
It will allow same-sex partners to be legally treated as the
"nearest relative" for the first time. Now ministers are studying proposals to
extend that to tenancy rights. Currently gay partners have no rights to take on a tenancy
if their partner leaves or dies and can be evicted.
The Adults with Incapacity Bill will be fully implemented by April
2002, with up to half of the changes made by April 2001. The Housing Bill is expected to
be published late next year.
Wednesday, December 08, 1999
Rate of divorces and marriages
continuing to drop in Britain
A story published today in the Belfast
Telegraph reports that the divorce rate in England and Wales is continuing to fall,
according to government figures just released.
There were 145,200 in England and Wales in 1998 compared with
146,700 in 1997, and 158,700 in 1991, said the winter issue of Population Trends,
published by the Office for National Statistics.
The rate was 12.9 per 1,000 married people in 1998, the lowest rate
since 1990, the figures showed.
The story says that the average (mean) age at divorce keeps rising.
In 1998 it was 40.4 years for men, and 37.9 years for women compared with 39.7 and 37.2
respectively in 1997. This reflects the increases in recent years in the average age of
people when they marry.
About 71% of all divorces were between couples where the marriage
had been the first for both parties, the same as in 1997, compared with 82% in 1981.
Nearly one out of every five men and women divorcing in 1998 had been divorced before,
compared with only one in 10 in 1981.
More British women
without a spouse or live-in partner are giving birth
An article published today in the Guardian
reports that Britain has the highest rate of women in western Europe who bring up children
without a spouse or a live-in partner. The story is based on a research report released
The study of European birth trends also shows that couples who marry
before having a child are consistently more likely to stay together than those who have a
baby while cohabiting.
The story predicts these findings will be seized on by campaigners
for traditional family values, since the release of this new study comes only a week after
the importance of marriage was played down at the launch of the government-funded National
Family and Parenting Institute.
An opinion poll commissioned by the institute, suggested that only
one in five adults in Britain consider marriage a very important factor in bringing up
Jack Straw, the home secretary, said the idea of a golden age of
marriage had been exaggerated.
According to the story, the latest official figures show that, in
1998, 38% of births in England and Wales were outside marriage, compared with 26% 10 years
earlier, although more than 60% were registered by both parents giving the same address.
The new European study, carried out by population expert Kathleen
Kiernan, of the London School of Economics, found a similar trend in most countries, with
women increasingly having children outside marriage. The report reveals that France is on
the brink of joining Scandinavian states in having a majority of babies born outside
However, the research discovered that Britain is the only country
where this trend has led to a "striking" increase in numbers of women having a
child without a live-in partner as well as a rise in numbers having a child within a
The story notes that among women aged 25-29, 15% of British women
having a first child were found to doing so without a partner. Equivalent proportions were
9% in France and 6% in Sweden. By contrast, 46% of first births to French women were to
those cohabiting, as were 53% in Sweden, compared to 17% in Britain.
Professor Kiernan found 92% of British couples who married before
having a first child were together five years later. However, only 48% of British couples
who were cohabiting when they had a first child were still together five years later. This
was lower than in most other countries.
The study, published in Population Trends, the quarterly journal of
the office for national statistics, comes as the number of marriages is continuing to fall
and experts are projecting that the proportion of the adult population that is married
will fall below half for the first time in history in the middle of the next decade.
The article says the number of marriages in England and Wales
dropped to 273,000 in 1997, compared to 352,000 in 1987. But the number of divorces is
also falling and the divorce rate, which is a more significant indicator, came down in
1998 to its lowest level since 1990.