Fewer young couples getting married

11/05/2018 15:00
© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2017, 64.4 thousand marriages were contracted and 17.9 thousand civil partnerships were registered in the Netherlands. Marriage has become less popular among people in their twenties and thirties; they are more likely to opt for registered partnership or non-marital cohabitation. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of provisional figures over 2017.

The number of marriages contracted annually has declined over the longer term. Twenty years ago, as many as 85 thousand couples tied the knot, while this number has fluctuated around 65 thousand in recent years. At the same time, registered partnership is on the rise, with nearly 18 thousand couples signing a registered partnership last year, up by over 2 thousand on 2016 and 11 thousand on 2007.

Decline mainly among 25 to 34-year-olds

There are mainly fewer marriages in the age categories around age 30, relative to the entire population. Whereas in 1997, 83 out of every 1 thousand single women between the ages 25 and 30 got married, this share had dropped to as low as 37 by 2017. Among 30 to 34-year-old women, the share decreased from 74 to 43 in every 1 thousand. Male cohorts also saw the sharpest decline in these categories.

Between 1997 and 2017, the average age at first marriage rose from 30 to 34 years among men and from 28 to 31.5 years among women.

Partially offset by registered partnership

The decreasing number of marriages in each age group is partially offset by registered partnerships. When adding registered partnerships and marriages together, the decrease in the share of couples who register their relationship with the civil registry is smaller in each age category. This is especially the case among 25 to 34-year-olds. In 2017, 12 in 1 thousand unmarried 25 to 29-year-old women entered into a registered partnership, as against 13 among 30 to 34-year-old women.

The largest decline in the share of women getting married or registering a partnership was recorded between 2007 and 2013.

More people cohabiting without being married

It has become customary among younger generations to live together for some time first before getting married or to continue as unmarried couples altogether. As a result, there is currently a larger share of 35-year-olds who cohabit without being married. In addition, more people are in a registered partnership, versus a smaller share who are married at that age. In 1997, for example, 70 percent of women and over 60 percent of men were married at the age of 35. At the beginning of 2017, these shares had dropped to 45 and 36 percent respectively.

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