Published: 8 May 2018

Same-sex partners enter into 554 marriages

According to Statistics Finland’s data on population changes, 26,542 marriages were entered into in 2017 of which 554 were marriages between same-sex couples. An amendment to the Marriage Act entered into force on 1 March 2017 that enabled same-sex couples to enter into marriage and, at the same time, registration of partnerships was abolished. Prior to the Act entering into force, 36 partnerships were still registered in January and February 2017. A total of 25,988 marriages between opposite-sex couples were entered into, which was 515 fewer than in the year before.

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2017, opposite-sex couples

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2017, opposite-sex couples

The statistical method for calculating the total number of annually contracted marriages and divorces was changed starting from the statistics for 2017 so that the statistics include all marriages and divorces where at least one of the spouses resides permanently in Finland on the day of the event. In 1980 to 2016, the total number consisted of cases where the woman was permanently residing in Finland on the day of marriage or divorce. In the figure and Appendix table 1, the number of contracted marriages and divorces is presented with the revised statistical method retrospectively starting from 1990. In order for the numbers for different years to be comparable in the figure, the number for 2017 does not include same-sex marriages, 554, or divorces, of which there were two.

The marriage rate, i.e. the ratio of persons who have entered into marriage of those who could marry, has decreased nearly continuously since 2008. In recent years, the marriage rate has no longer decreased considerably, however. While women's marriage rate was 24 per one thousand women not married or not in a registered partnership in 2008, the corresponding rate in 2017 was 18. The corresponding figures for men were 27 in 2008 and 19 in 2017. In 2017, the marriage rate decreased among persons aged under 40 compared with the previous year, while among older persons it was slightly livelier.

Age at the time of first marriage keeps rising

In 2017, the rise in the average age of women and men entering into their first marriage continued for opposite-sex couples. The average age of women increased by 0.3 years and that of men by 0.1 years from the year before. The average age of women entering into their first marriage was 31.7 years and 33.9 years for men. The average age of women entering into their second marriage was 44.6 years and 47.5 years for men.

In 2017, the average age in marriages between two women was 36.1 years. Correspondingly, the average age in marriages between two men was 41.3 years.

The number of marriages entered into between opposite-sex couples decreased because clearly fewer first marriages were contracted than in the year before. By contrast, the number of remarriages was slightly higher than in the previous year. However, the annual changes were so small that the share of first marriages in all marriages entered into is still around three quarters. The relative share has remained at the same level throughout the early 2000s. Twenty-one per cent of all marriages contracted were second marriages, and four per cent were third marriages.

Number of divorces decreased

In 2017, in total 13,485 marriages ended in divorce. Apart from two of these, all were divorces where the spouses were of opposite sexes. The number of divorces between spouses of opposite sexes decreased by 292 from the previous year. The annual number of divorces has fluctuated without a clear direction. However, 2017 was the second successive year when the number decreased. The annual changes in the numbers have, however, been so small that the divorce rate, i.e. the number of divorces in relation to married persons, has remained at the same level for over 20 years: 13 to 14 divorces per one thousand married women or men. Changes by age in the divorce rate were also minor compared with the previous year.

In first marriages between opposite-sex spouses, the average age for women at the time of divorce was 40.6 years. The corresponding average age of men was 42.9 in 2017. The average age of both sexes at the time of divorce increased by one-tenth from the year before. The average age of either sex at the time of divorce has not had a clearly rising or falling trend in the last few years.

Number of marriages contracted between same-sex partners higher than registrations of same-sex partnerships in any year

The number of marriages contracted between same-sex partners, 554, is higher than the highest number of registrations of same-sex partnerships, 446. The highest number of registrations of same-sex partnerships was reached in the first year that was not even full as the act on registered partnerships entered into force on 1 March 2002.

One could say that the amendment to the Marriage Act inspired same-sex couples to get married when we compare the number of marriages contracted to the number of partnership registrations in recent years. In all, 554 contracted marriages in ten months is more than one and a half times the average number of registered partnerships in the previous five years and more than double the number in 2016. Of all contracted marriages, 16 per cent were contracted in March and 72 per cent during the first six months.

Of the marriages, 181 were between two men and 373 between two women. Before the Marriage Act entered into force at the beginning of March, 16 male couples and 15 female couples registered their partnerships in January and February.

The number of registered same-sex partnerships ending in divorce has been around 130 in two previous years. In 2017, the number of divorces was 131, which is four more than in the previous year. Of them, 36 were divorces of male couples and 95 of female couples.

Changes in marital status, mean age of men and women at first marriage in 2008–2017

  Year
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Contracted marriages    32 947   31 975 31 925 30 557 31 008 27 238 26 551 26 735 26 503 26 542
Divorces 13 709 13 727 13807 13 681 13 251 13 989 13 915 14 170 13 775 13 485
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, women 30,2 30,2 30,3 30,6 30,8 30,6 30,7 31,2 31,4 31,7
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, men 32,5 32,5 32,6 32,9 33,1 32,8 32,9 33,4 33,7 33,9
Mean age at first divorce, opposite–sex couples, women 40,3 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,0 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,5 40,6
Mean age at first divorce, opposite-sex couples, men 42,5 42,2 42,3 42,7 42,3 42,3 42,3 42,8 42,8 42,9
Registered partnerships      249 246 322 333 329 373 333 318 251 36 1)
Divorces from registered partnerships 45 53 64 85 103 101 109 133 127 131
1) In January and Februari 2017 registered partnerships.

Source: Changes in marital status 2017. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Publication in pdf-format (314.1 kB)

Tables

Tables in databases

Appendix tables

Figures
Quality descriptions

Updated 8.5.2018

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Changes in marital status [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-643X. 2017. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 20.9.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ssaaty/2017/ssaaty_2017_2018-05-08_tie_001_en.html