MARRIAGE hit its highest level in more than three decades last year, with 22,544 couples tying the knot.
The figure hasn’t been this high since 1974 when 22,833 couples said “We do”. But while numbers are back to their old level, the type of marriage ceremony has changed — 34 years ago fewer than 2% of unions were civil marriages compared with more than 22% now.
Family life also seems in fashion judging by the rising number of births. They increased from 64,237 in 2006 to 70,711 last year, an extra 6,474 babies in one year.
Significantly, the baby boom means birth rates have risen to an average of 2.03 per woman — the first time it has been more than two since 1991. Statisticians say, ignoring migration, the rate needs to be at least 2.1 if the population is not to fall.
Divorce rates remain fairly low, with just a slight increase last year from 3,466 to 3,684. The figures come from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) yearbook which gives an annual overview of the country from a statistical viewpoint.
With the rapid decline in the economy in recent months, many of the figures in other areas are already out of date, as the yearbook was compiled when there was still full employment and an exchequer surplus, lending was still rising and retail sales and new car registrations were increasing.
Employment in the construction industry accounted for 13% of all jobs last year and 6,038 working days were lost due to six strikes but the industrial landscape has changed dramatically.
Next year’s tome is expected to present a far starker picture of the country’s fallen fortunes. Other statistics are still relevant, however, and reveal some striking inequalities in society.
For example, 66% of females are still in full-time education at the age of 19 compared with just 48% of 19-year-old males, and 84% of our 29,534 primary school teachers are female.
Men and women also have very different pay- packets. Women earn on average 70% the pay of their male counterparts, €30,109 compared with €43,270.
Vital stats: Ireland by numbers
For every day last year there were:
* 193 births (176 in 2006).
* 77 deaths (75 in 2006).
* 62 marriages (60 in 2006).
* 10 divorces (9 in 2006).
The following populations were recorded:
* 4.2 million people.
* 6.7 million cattle.
* 5.5 million sheep.
* 1.6 million pigs.
* €43,270 (men).
* €30,109 (women).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved