Marriage Trends in Europe
Trends in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, marriage rates are the lowest since records began, and people are prolonging their marriage. According to the ONS, in 2007:
- tthe average groom is almost 37 years old and his bride nearly 34;
- 231,450 people got married in 2007 in England and Wales, a decrease of 34% since 1981. With the exception of an increase between 2002 and 2004, this follows the declining long-term trend observed in recent decades and is the lowest annual number of marriages registered in England and Wales since 1895, when 228,204 people said "I do".
- the marriage rate for men was 21.6 men per 1,000 unmarried men aged 16 and over, down from 2006
- the marriage rate for women was 19.7 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women aged 16 and over, down from 2006
- 30 men aged 80 or over got married for the first time, but only 20 previously unmarried female octogenarians got married
- 143,440 marriages were the first for both parties involved, accounting for 62% of marriages.
- Remarriages for both parties accounted for 18% of all marriages. These proportions are similar to those observed in 2006. Since 1981, the number of marriages that were the first for both parties has fallen by 37%, while remarriages for both parties have fallen by just over a quarter (28%).
Reasons for the decrease in marriage have been attributed to the divorce laws in England and Wales. According to a barrister, Joanna Grandfield, interviewed in the Guardian, the high pay outs given to certain women in London have scared men to make a financial as well as emotional commitment. In addition, the credit crunch is making the cost of a wedding (on average 20, 000 GBP) more prohibitive for many couples.
Trends in the Netherlands
Different trends can be noted in the Netherlands, where marriages have increased albeit marginally in the past few years. Marriage rates are still below the numbers common in the early 1970s when more than 120 thousand couples married each year. Three-quarters of people who say they have no intention of getting married think that being married does not add anything to their current situation. Statistics Netherlands predicts that four in every ten people in their thirties will never marry, but the majority of them will live together at any time in their lives. The number of marrying in 2006 was greater than in 2005, with Statistics Netherlands crediting more auspicious financial circumstances as one possible factor.
Trends in France
There does not seem to be any marked change in marriage rates in the past few years in France. In 2007, 267 000 marriages were registered in metropolitan France and 7 000 in overseas department - approximately the same level as in 2006. However, the median age of marriage has increased by a year in the past five years. The average age difference between couples has remained stable at 2 years difference. 71% of marriages in 2007 were between previously unmarried marriages; this percentage has decreased in the past decade in favour of more remarriages.