The number of couples marrying decreased in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to a report recently published by the Ministry of the Interior.
In the period between January and last month, 38,594 marriages were registered, down by about 2.2 percent year-on-year, the report showed.
For the whole of last year, the number of marriages was 143,384, which was a drop from 165,327 in 2011, data showed.
However, the ministry report said that 2011 was the centennial of the Republic of China (ROC) and was considered a very special and auspicious year in which to get married.
As a result, there was a 20 percent annual increase in the number of marriages that year, the report said.
In contrast, 2009 was a “lonely phoenix year” in Chinese culture, which is considered unfavorable to lasting marriages, and only 117,000 couples tied the knot that year, the ministry said.
The following year was perceived as auspicious for marriage because it was the ROC’s 99th anniversary, and the Chinese words for “nine” and “longevity” sound similar, the report said.
These cultural factors, coupled with an economic recovery and a drop in unemployment, contributed to an increase in the number of marriages to 138,819 in 2010, according to the report.
The data for the first three months of this year showed that there were 3,084 marriages involving spouses from China, Hong Kong or Macau, while 1,839 involved spouses from other countries, mainly Vietnam, Japan and the US.
The highest number of weddings involving foreign spouses was registered in northern Taiwan, the statistics showed.
However, Kinmen and Matsu recorded the highest percentage of such weddings — 29.29 percent, the report said.
The report indicated that 90.24 percent of foreign spouses on those islands were from China, Hong Kong or Macau, probably due to the geographic proximity of those areas to the islands.
The ministry said the number of marriages involving foreign and Chinese spouses had been on the rise prior to 2003 and reached a high of about 31.86 percent that year, with Chinese spouses accounting for more than 60 percent of such marriages.
However, since the government took measures in 2004 to prevent immigration fraud, the percentage of marriages involving foreign and Chinese spouses has been declining, the ministry said.
For the first three months of this year, marriages involving foreign spouses accounted for 12.76 percent of total marriages, down 0.95 percentage points from the same period last year, data showed.