Published: 18 June 2019

Number of marriages contracted decreased considerably

According to Statistics Finland’s data on population changes, 23,799 marriages were contracted in 2018, the number in 2017 was 26,542. The number of marriages contracted decreased by 2,743 in one year. A total of 23,412 marriages between opposite-sex couples were entered into, which was 2,576 fewer than in the year before. Same-sex partners entered into 387 marriages, while in the previous year the number was 554 in ten months. An amendment to the Marriage Act entered into force on 1 March 2017, according to which same-sex partners can contract marriages.

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2018, opposite-sex couples

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2018, opposite-sex couples

The statistical method for calculating the total number of annually contracted marriages and divorces was changed starting from the statistics for 2017 so that the statistics include all marriages and divorces where at least one of the spouses resides permanently in Finland on the day of the event. In 1980 to 2016, the total number consisted of cases where the woman was permanently residing in Finland on the day of marriage or divorce. In the figure and table 121e , the number of contracted marriages and divorces is presented with the revised statistical method retrospectively starting from 1990. In order for the numbers for different years to be comparable in the figure, the number for 2017 and 2018 does not include same-sex marriages, that numbered 554 and 387 in the above-mentioned years, or divorces that amounted to two and 29.

The marriage rate, i.e. the ratio of persons who have entered into marriage of those who could marry, has decreased nearly continuously since 2008. In recent years, it seemed that the decline in the total marriage rate had dampened but 2018 brought a clear decrease. Women’s marriage rate decreased from 18 to 16 per one thousand women not married or not in a registered partnership from 2017 to 2018. The corresponding figure form men diminished from 19 to 17. Women’s marriage rate decreased by eight per cent and men’s by ten per cent.

In 2018, the marriage rate decreased in almost all age groups (Appendix figures 2 and 3).

Rise in the age at the time of first marriage stalled

In 2018, the average age of women and men entering into their first marriage remained unchanged for opposite-sex couples. The average age of women was 31.7 and that of men 33.9 years. The average age of women entering into their second marriage was 44.7 years and rose by one-tenth from 2017. The corresponding average age for men remained unchanged at 47.5 years.

In 2018, the average age in marriages between two women was 35.4 years, one year earlier it was 36.1. Correspondingly, the average age in marriages between two men was 44.3 years having been 41.3 in 2017.

The number of marriages contracted between opposite-sex couples decreased regardless of the order number of the marriage entered into. The share of first marriages in the decrease in marriages entered into was 59 per cent, the share of second marriages was 31 per cent and that of third marriages was eight per cent.

The number of remarriages decreased more in relative terms than the number of first marriages. Even so, the share of first marriages in all marriages entered into is still around three-quarters. The relative share has remained at the same level throughout the early 2000s. Twenty-one per cent of all marriages contracted were second marriages, and slightly under four per cent were third marriages.

Number of divorces continued declining

In 2018, in total 13,145 marriages ended in divorce. Apart from 29, all were divorces where the spouses were of opposite sexes. The number of divorces between spouses of opposite sexes decreased by 340 from the previous year. The annual number of divorces has fluctuated without a clear direction. However, 2018 was the third successive year when the number decreased. The annual changes in the numbers have, however, been so small that the divorce rate, i.e. the number of divorces in relation to married persons, has remained at the same level for over 20 years: 13 to 14 divorces per one thousand married women or men.

Changes by age in the divorce rate focus on women aged under 30 and men aged 25 to 34. The divorce rate only decreased in the above-mentioned age groups from the year before. As an exception to what is said above, the divorce rate of men aged 20 to 24 increased, which is caused by the fact: that the number divorces slightly increased but the number of married men in this age group decreased.

In first marriages between opposite-sex spouses, the average age for women at the time of divorce was 40.8 years. The corresponding average age of men was 43.0 in 2018. The average age of women at the time of divorce rose from the year before by two-tenths, that of men by one-tenth. A slight upward trend has been visible in the average age at the time of divorce for both sexes in recent years.

Clearly fewer marriages contracted between same-sex couples

In 2018, same-sex partners entered into 387 marriages of which 145 were between two men and 242 between two women. The number decreased clearly from 2017 when 554 marriages were contracted.

As a result of the amendment to the Marriage Act, starting from 1 March 2017, same-sex partners can enter into marriage in Finland and partnerships are no longer registered. After the amendment, more marriages were contracted in 10 months than what had been the highest number of registered partnerships in one year, 446 in 2002. The effect of the amendment to the Marriage Act entering into force on the number of marriages in the effective year seems to be similar as that of the Act of Registered Partnerships, 1 March 2002. In both cases, the number of marriages or registered partnerships entered into decreased clearly in the year following the year in which the Act entered into force: marriages by 30 per cent and registered partnerships by 57 per cent.

The number of registered same-sex partnerships ending in divorce has been around 130 in three previous years. In 2018, there were clearly fewer such divorces, 103. When the divorces of same-sex married couples, 29 are added to this figure, the total amount 132 is at the same level as same-sex partnerships ending in divorce in previous years. Thirty-two of same-sex partnerships that ended in divorce were between men and 71 between women. Correspondingly, six of same-sex marriages ending in divorce were between men and 23 between women.

Changes in marital status, mean age of men and women at first marriage in 2009–2018

  Year
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Contracted marriages   31 975 31 925 30 557 31 008 27 238 26 551 26 735 26 503 26 542 23 799
Divorces 13 727 13807 13 681 13 251 13 989 13 915 14 170 13 775 13 485 13 145
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, women 30,2 30,3 30,6 30,8 30,6 30,7 31,2 31,4 31,7 31,7
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, men 32,5 32,6 32,9 33,1 32,8 32,9 33,4 33,7 33,9 33,9
Mean age at first divorce, opposite–sex couples, women 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,0 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,5 40,6 40,8
Mean age at first divorce, opposite-sex couples, men 42,2 42,3 42,7 42,3 42,3 42,3 42,8 42,8 42,9 43,0
Divorces, same-sex couples and divorces from registered partnerships 53 64 85 103 101 109 133 127 133 1) 132
1) Until 2016 divorces from registered partnerships. From 2017 on divorces from same-sex marriages and divorces from registered partnerships.

Source: Changes in marital status 2018. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Publication in pdf-format (296.9 kB)

Tables

Tables in databases

Figures
Quality descriptions

Updated 18.6.2019

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Changes in marital status [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-643X. 2018. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 22.7.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ssaaty/2018/ssaaty_2018_2019-06-18_tie_001_en.html