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Interest in marriage continues to slide, divorce rates remain stable

Statistics Finland reports that since the 1970s, the average age of people entering into marriage for the first time has risen by seven years.

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New figures from the year 2017 released by the state-owned number cruncher Statistics Finland show that Finnish residents are growing more reluctant to tie the knot.

The agency notes that the trend of opposite-sex marriage rates has been in decline for over a decade, although things have picked up a bit in this area in recent years.

Statistics Finland also reports that the average age for persons entering into their first marriage continues to rise: "in other words marriage is delayed to an ever older age". The average age of first-time opposite-sex newlyweds has now risen to 32 for women and 34 for men, according to 2017 counts.

The youngest brides and grooms are found in the region of Ostrobothnia and the oldest are found in the Åland Islands between Finland and Sweden, where the average age for newlyweds is 36.8 for women and 38.3 for men.

In 1990, 74 percent of women in Finland entering into their first marriage were aged 20 to 34 and in 2017, this share was only 54 percent. The development is similar for men in the same age group, with the share decreasing from 88 to 66 per cent.

The figures from last year also reveal that the probability that a woman’s first marriage ends in divorce was 38 percent. The rate of divorce has remained virtually the same for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples since the 1990s.

"An interesting fact is that a first marriage ending in widowhood is slightly more probable than the marriage ending in divorce," the Finnish agency writes in its report.

An amendment to the Marriage Act in Finland entered into force at the beginning of March 2017, making it possible for same-sex couples to officially marry. From the beginning of March to the end of the year, 554 same-sex couples entered into marriage, 181 of which were male and 373 of which were female.

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