Thursday, 16 January 1986

Number Of Marriages And Per Capita GDP (2008)

CORE 004: Introductory Economics
Number Of Marriages And Per Capita GDP

Chia Jin Jun Melinda
Liu Ruixiang
Yong Jin Chuan


For this research, a time-series project based in Singapore will be looked at. This paper hypothesizes that per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and number of registered marriages are negatively correlated, i.e. as per capita GDP increase, the number of marriages decrease. The independent variable is per capita GDP and the dependent variable is the number of marriages.


Per Capita Gross Domestic Product (per capita GDP)

Per capita GDP is defined as the amount each individual receives, in monetary terms, of the yearly income that is being generated in their country through productive activities. This is calculated by taking the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year divided by the average population for the same year.

This variable was chosen as a steady increase in Singapore’s per capita GDP has been observed throughout the years. Thus, it would be of interest to see if this increase has had or will have any impact on the lives of Singaporeans.

Number of Registered Marriages

Number of marriages includes non-Muslim marriages registered under the Women’s Charter by the Registry of Marriages as well as Muslim marriages registered by the Registry of Muslim marriages.

The family is the cornerstone of society, and is the basic social unit that nurtures and moulds each person and his/her values. Singaporean families are doing well but, at the same time, worrying trends have also surfaced. Families are increasingly faced with challenges brought about by globalisation and modernization as individuals try to balance their responsibilities between family and work. Overwhelming demands of work and other pursuits in fast-paced, contemporary Singapore has placed the family unit at risk of being side-stepped. This has also led to many Singaporeans delaying marriage and parenthood.

Thus, this paper seeks to find out if this decreasing trend is correlated to the increase in Singapore’s per capita GDP.

Why are they related?

As per capita GDP rises, education levels increase as well (Barro, 2000). Being more educated, more focus is placed on establishing careers first, resulting in the putting off of marriage (Saardchom & Lemaire, 2005). In addition, individuals become more self-aware and prioritise a sense of need for self-actualisation above marriage. In the process of putting off marriage, individuals avoid commitment and more time is available for the self in pursuing post-modern wants.

Mancur Olson’s Dictatorship, Democracy and Development (1993) brought to light the potential economic prosperity that democracy brings about. Democracy enhances growth of emerging economies as the favourable effects on economic growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital (Barro, 1996). However, these democratic ideals come from predominantly western cultures and, with the proliferation of democracy throughout the world, western values pertaining to an egalitarian society, personal freedom and liberty, etc. then become pervasive. Although this brings about improved economic growth and a subsequent increase in per capita GDP, this also leads to an erosion of traditional values, especially those of the family and community, as the self becomes more important.

Robert D. Putnam’s Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community further addresses declining social capital within democracies, as compared to the high levels of social capital in traditional communitarian societies. The correlations between democracies, per capita GDP and number of marriages then become apparent. This results in an increase in smaller families, and an overall decrease in marriages.

Data Presentation

A time series study on Singapore is conducted to find the correlation between per capita GDP and the number of registered marriages. Due to the limited number of statistical data found, we are only able to generate a correlation between the two variables based on 17 data points from 1990 to 2006.

Analysis of results

Regression Statistics

Based on the multiple R-value, we can conclude that there is a negative correlation between per capita GDP and number of marriages. However, this value is neither strong (r > 0.7) nor weak (r < 0.2). This is further justified by the adjusted R² value. As this is a time-series test, the adjusted R² value which is less than 0.7 shows that this regression analysis does not have much explanatory power.

Using the least square regression formula, whereby y=ax +b:
  • coefficient b = 27222.98956
  • coefficient a = -0.092823558

Hence, y = -0.0928x + 27223

T-Stat and P-value

At 95% confidence level, coefficient b is shown to be significantly more than 0 (t-stat > 1.96). This is further justified by the P-value, whereby the probability of insignificance, 2.43e-12, is very small. This explains why the coefficient b (intercept) is much larger than 0.


Based on the data analysed as above, it is observed that there is a negative correlation between per capita GDP and the number of marriages. Therefore, we can conclude that our hypothesis stands true - As per capita GDP increase, the number of marriages decrease. Increase in per capita GDP entails a rise in education levels and the proliferation of western values which results in a decreasing trend of registered marriages. However, the relatively weak negative correlation is offset by the fact that people may perceive greater wealth security and are also encouraged to get married during economic boom times. Thus, we can conclude from our research that should per capita GDP continue to increase in the long run, this decreasing trend of registered marriages will continually be observed.


  1. Barro, R. J. (1996), “Democracy and Growth”, Journal of Economic Growth, 1, 1-27.

  2. Barro, R. J. (2000), “Education and Economic Growth”, unpublished, Harvard University.

  3. Family Policy Unit - Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (2006). State of the Family in Singapore. Available on World Wide Web:

  4. Olson, M. (1993), “Dictatorship, Democracy and Development”, American Political Science Review, 87, 567-576.

  5. Putnam, R. D. (2000), “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community”.

  6. Saardchom, N. & Lemaire, J. (2005), “Causes of Increasing Ages at Marriage: An International Regression Study”, Marriage and Family Review, 37, 73-97.

  7. Singapore Department of Statistics (2007). Statistics on Marriages & Divorces 2006. Available on World Wide Web:

  8. Wikipedia (2007). Gross Domestic Product. Available on World Wide Web:

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