The old traditional belief that women should be younger than men in marriage stemmed from different beliefs.
Naturally, it is believed that typically women age quicker than their male counterparts, especially after giving birth.
Mostly in the African traditional society, it is also believed that a healthy age difference in favour of men brings respect and appreciation from the wife.
Another common belief is that women mature quicker than men therefore they can be ready for marriage at a younger age than their male counterparts.
Botswana has the oldest bachelors
Available data from Statistics Botswana indicates that Botswana has the oldest bachelors and spinsters with a median age of 40 years and 35 years respectively in 2021.
The average age for a bachelor was recorded at around 42 years and around 36 years for spinsters. These figures are in stark contrast to other regions, particularly in Eastern Europe.
According to an analysis by the United Nations which uses data recorded between 2015 and 2018 in 83 countries, Estonia has the world’s oldest grooms.
Estonian men typically get married at a median age of 36 years and four months, while Slovenia had the world’s oldest brides, who got married at the median marriage age of 34 years.
Age is just a number!
In the past, huge age differences mostly reflected cultures that believed in men’s experience and women’s youth for stable marriages. It was also common in cultures where arranged marriages were the norm and where dowry payments were a factor in families’ financial security. However, an emerging global trend is that huge age gaps are often associated with how financially endowed the older partner is, male or female.
Statistics from a recent Stats Botswana publication reveal that in the majority (80.5 percent) of marriages in 2021, the groom was older than the bride as traditionally expected. However, in a significant portion of 11.4 percent which amounts to 869 marriages countrywide, the groom was younger than the bride. 685 grooms were younger by 1-4 years, 150 grooms by between 5 and 9 years, 27 grooms by between 10 and 14 and lastly, only 7 grooms were younger by above 15 years.
It is also interesting to note that a significant proportion of women remarry younger men after their first marriages. Statistics reveal that 21.6 percent of divorcees and 19 percent of widows got married to younger grooms in 2021. ‘Love is a matter of the heart’, and so there can never be a concrete scientific reason for this phenomenon. Possibilities, however, might be that men of the same age or older mostly want to marry younger women not older rendering them unavailable. It is also possible that after ugly experiences with older men, these women decide to marry younger men with the hope of better relationship dynamics. For some, it’s purely coincidental that they fall in love with someone younger while for others it is all about control issues.
You may be wondering whether these numbers are of any use anywhere! In fact, these statistics are crucial as they are considered to be key social indicators of personal, child and societal well-being. They help policymakers to appropriately shape programs and policies related to marriages and family structure for healthier societies.
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