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Marriages decline as divorces increase in Greece and the EU

The number of marriages in Greece has dropped by half and divorces have more than quadrupled in the last 50 years or so, a recent report by the European Union’s statistical agency has shown.

According to Eurostat’s Marriage and Divorce Statistics Report, Greece had an average of 4.4 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants in 2019 from 8.9/1,000 in 1964 (the year from when the first data are available). Divorces, meanwhile, rose from 0.4/1,000 in 1964 to 1.8/1,000 in 2017 (latest data), which was also the highest on record.

The trend is more or less consistent with the average in the EU, where in 2019 there were 4.3 marriages and 1.8 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants, from 8/1,000 marriages and 0.8/1,000 divorces in 1964.

The lowest number of marriages in 2019 was reported in Italy (3.1/1,000) and the highest in Cyprus with 8.9 per 1,000 inhabitants – a significant reversal from 1964, when Cyprus had the lowest marriage rate at 4.4/1,000 and Italy’s 8.1 was close to the average of 8/1,000.

However, divorces were also well above the EU average in Cyprus at 2.6/1,000, topped only by Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg, which were all at 3.1 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants.

“According to the report, overall some 1.9 million marriages and an estimated 0.8 million divorces took place in the EU in 2019.”

It notes, however, that “trends in family formation and dissolution based on just marriage and divorce data might not offer a full picture.

“Legal alternatives to marriage, like registered partnership, have become more widespread and national legislations have changed to confer more rights on unmarried couples. Similarly, with divorce being made procedurally easier, it is harder to make available reliable data,” it says.

Eurostat, meanwhile, also showed an increase in the proportion of children who are born to unmarried couples, together with a decrease of children born inside marriage.

In this area, Greece topped the chart with more than 87% of births occurring within marriage in 2019, while in Cyprus that ratio was 78.8%. France had the largest ratio of birth outside marriage at 61%.


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