Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) publishes marriage data on citizens and permanent residents that are collected through the national civil registration systems. The data in this dataset is based only on registered marriages and divorces that are stipulated and governed by the country’s legal frameworks. The management of registered marriages is the responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Two main
legislations cover the registration of civil marriages and customary marriages. Civil marriages are administered through the Marriage Act, 1961 (Act No. 25 of 1961) as amended, and its associated regulations. Customary marriages are governed by the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 (Act No. 120 of 1998) that came into effect on 15 November 2000. An additional legislation is the registration of civil unions - relationships between same-sex couples that are legally recognized by a state authority. These unions are covered by the Civil Union Act, 2006 (Act No. 17 of 2006) that came into operation on 30 November 2006. After the solemnisation ceremony of a marriage or a civil union, the marriage officer submits the marriage /civil union register to the nearest office of the DHA, where the marriage / civil union details are recorded in the National Population Register (NPR). With respect to customary marriages, the two spouses and their witnesses present themselves at a DHA office in order to register a customary marriage. Hence the province of registration is not necessarily the province of the place of usual residence of the couple since the registration of the marriage can take place in any DHA office. Statistics South Africa obtains data on marriages and civil unions in digital format from DHA through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the Marriages and Divorces 2010 dataset is compiled from this data.
The dissolution of registered marriages and civil unions falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD). This responsibility of the department is mandated through the Divorce Act, 1979 as amended, and its associated regulations (Act No.70 of 1979) and the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 31 of 2008) as amended which came into effect on 9 August 2010.
The divorces data file only provides 2010 data on divorces from civil marriages. It is limited in its usability by this and by the fact that the data is on divorces that were granted in 2010 by the
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development at 12 of the 62 divorce courts mandated to deal with divorce cases in South Africa. The lack of geographical data in the dataset also compromises its usability.
Kind of Data
Administrative records data [adm]
Unit of Analysis
The units of anaylsis for the Marriages and Divorces 2010 are individuals.
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for licensed distribution
This version (version 1) of the Marriages and Divorces 2010 dataset was obtained from Statistics South Africa on the 19th of June 2012
The divorces data file only provides data on divorces from civil marriages. It is limited in its usability by this and by the fact that the data is on divorces that were granted in 2010 by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development at 12 of the 62 divorce courts mandated to deal with divorce cases in South Africa. The lack of geographical data in the dataset further compromises its usability.
The scope of the data is marriage and divorces of citizens and permanent residents of South Africa
family life and marriage [12.5]
The Marriages and Divorces 2010 has national coverage.
Geography is problematic in this dataset as not all the data files have geographic data. The Civil Marriages and Civil Unions data files include a Province of Registration variable but the Customary Marriages data file does not. There is also no geographical data in the Divorces file. As this data file includes divorce data from only a subset of divorce courts, this lack of geographical information compromises its usability.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The MD 2010 dataset is a licensed dataset, accessible under conditions.
Publications based on datasets distributed by DataFirst should acknowledge relevant sources by means of bibliographic citations. To ensure that such source attributions are captured for social science bibliographic utilities, citations must appear in footnotes or in the reference section of publications. The bibliographic citation for this dataset is:
Statistics South Africa. 2012. Marriages and Divorces 2010 [dataset]. Version 1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2012. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2012.
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