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Where couples in Europe get married—and where they divorce

Newly weds in Poland.
Reuters/Lisi Niesner
Popular in Poland.
  • Cassie Werber
By Cassie Werber

Cassie writes about the world of work.

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Few would claim that Europe is a homogenous region. But numbers released by Eurostat this month show that the differences are deeply reflected in the way people in different countries choose to organize family life.

Marriage, it turns out, is more popular in places with a Catholic heritage, like northern Portugal and southern Italy —no surprise there. Greece, Romania, and Croatia also see several pockets where more than 80% of couples are married.

But more interesting is the difference between Germany, where between 70% and 80% and couples are married, and France, much of Britain, and Scandinavia, in which marriage is much less popular.


Divorce rates (counted in the same bracket with people whose partners have died) are different again. Divorce rates in Germany are broadly similar to those in France. The rate in the UK, Sweden, and Finland is slightly higher.

Spain, which has a similar rate of marriage to Germany, has much less divorce. Divorce is also not at all common in Greece, Italy, or Ireland, with less than 12% of the the population either having divorced or otherwise lost a partner in those countries.

Lone parent families, meanwhile, are most common in Latvia, followed by Poland and other eastern European states, northern Norway, the UK, Iceland, and Northern Ireland.


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