Foreign brides in Singapore are older and better educated
The profile of a foreign woman who marries a Singaporean man is changing, with many older and better educated than foreign brides of the past, data released by the Government for the first time showed.
Analysts say the change is a reflection of economic growth in the region. More than 90 per cent of the brides came from Asia. The median age of non-resident (NR) brides - defined as those who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents - was 29 in 2019. It was 27 a decade earlier and 26.1 in 2000.
The proportion of NR brides under the age of 25 was also lower, data released by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) today showed.
In 2019, 12 per cent of all NR brides were under 25, down from 36 per cent in 2000.
The women have higher educational qualifications as well, with two in three (66 per cent) in 2019 having post-secondary or university education. It was about one in three (36 per cent) in 2000.
An MSF spokesman said it publishes on an annual basis a series of aggregated statistical tables on its website to encourage research and to raise public awareness of emerging family trends and issues.
Observers say more Singaporeans are taking foreign spouses as a higher number of residents work, study and travel overseas.
Association of Women for Action and Research president Margaret Thomas said women from developing countries marry foreigners for various reasons, including "access to better job opportunities or better wages, which would help them to support their families back home".
On the changing profile of NR brides, Professor Paulin Straughan, a sociologist at Singapore Management University, said: "We now see a transformation of transnational marriages.
"When we mentioned foreign brides (in the past), we thought of women with low socio-economic status from the region who enter into marriages because of their families' financial circumstances."
But the demographic profile has changed over the past 20 years, with economic growth in the region bringing greater educational and economic opportunities in their home countries.
Social workers have long raised concerns over transnational marriages involving older and less educated Singaporean men marrying young foreign women after a brief courtship. Some unions were plagued by problems including abuse, poverty and challenges in securing a long-term stay in Singapore.
A spokesman for Fei Yue Community Services, which runs marital programmes for transnational couples, said of older and more educated NR wives: "We expect these brides to have better jobs and a more stable residency in Singapore. With better jobs, there will be less stress and conflict over financial issues.
"The certainty over their residency in Singapore also gives a sense of belonging and enables them to play their marital and parenting roles better, which is important for building a strong family."
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