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Published: 20 April 2017

Number of marriages contracted decreased slightly

According to Statistics Finland's data on population changes, the number of marriages entered into in 2016 went down slightly from the previous year. A total of 24,464 marriages were entered into, which was 244 fewer than in the year before. 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 2016, the marriage rate decreased among persons aged under 40 compared with the previous year, while among older persons it was slightly livelier.

Number of marriages and divorces 1965–2016

Number of marriages and divorces 1965–2016

People get married at an ever later age

In 2016, the rise in the average age of women and men entering into their first marriage continued. The average age of women increased by 0.2 years and that of men by 0.3 years from the year before. The average age of women entering into their first marriage was 31.4 years and 33.7 years for men. The average age of women entering into their second marriage was 44.8 years and 47.6 years for men.

The number and relative share of first marriages went down from the year before, while the number of remarriages was 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 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 close on four per cent third marriages.

Number of divorces decreased

In 2016, altogether 13,541 marriages ended in divorce, which is 398 fewer than one year previously. Since 2012, the number of divorces has increased and decreased in alternate years. The divorce rate, i.e. the number of divorces in relation to married persons, has remained the same for over 20 years. Changes by age in the divorce rate were minor compared with the previous year.

The average age of women in their first marriage was 40.5 when their marriage ended in divorce. The corresponding average age of men was 42.8 in 2016. The average age of women at the time of divorce rose from the year before by one-tenth, that of men remained unchanged. The average age of either sex has not had a clearly rising or falling trend in the last years.

Clearly under one-half of first marriages still end in divorce

According to the divorce rate in 2016, first marriages end in divorce with a probability of 39 per cent. The drop in the divorce rate from the previous year was so small that the probability of first marriages to end in divorce stays at the same level as in the previous years. The median for the duration of first marriages ending in divorce was ten years as in the year before.

Sixty-nine per cent of the marriages that ended in divorce in 2016 were first marriages for both spouses. The share increased by one percentage point from 2015. In 1990, the corresponding percentage was still 80. Nine per cent of the marriages ending in divorce were at least second marriages for both spouses in 2016, in 2015 it was 11 per cent.

Registration of partnerships decreased considerably, number of divorces almost unchanged

In 2016, the number of registered partnerships decreased by 21 per cent from the previous year. The probable reason for the drop in registrations is the amendment to the Marriage Act that entered into force at the beginning of March 2017 according to which same-sex couples can enter into marriage. It may be that some couples have decided to wait to March 2017 for the amendment. More information on this will be available from the monthly preliminary statistics on population changes.

In 2016, the registrations of partnerships numbered 251. Of these, 97 were male couples and 157 female couples. The number of partnership registrations by male couples only decreased by three from the previous year. By contrast, the number of partnership registrations by female couples decreased by 64, which corresponds to 29 per cent. The decrease in the number of partnership registrations was almost completely caused by the drop in registrations by female couples.

Slightly over 100 registered same-sex partnerships have ended in divorce annually in the four previous years. In 2016, the number of divorces was 127, which is five fewer than in the previous year.

Changes in marital status, mean age of men and women at first marriage in 2007–2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Contracted marriages    29 497    31 014    29 836 29 952 28 408 28 878 25 119 24 462 24 708 24 464
Divorces 13 224 13 471 13 527 13 619 13 469 13 040 13 766 13 682 13 939 13 541
Woman's mean age at first marriage 29,9 30,2 30,2 30,3 30,6 30,8 30,6 30,7 31,2 31,4
Man's mean age at first marriage 32,3 32,5 32,5 32,6 32,9 33,1 32,8 32,9 33,4 33,7
Woman's mean age at first divorce 40,5 40,3 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,0 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,5
Man's mean age at first divorce 42,8 42,5 42,2 42,3 42,7 42,3 42,3 42,3 42,8 42,8
Registered partnerships      213 249 246 322 333 329 373 333 318 251
Divorces from registered partnerships 67 45 53 64 85 103 101 109 133 127

Source: Changes in marital status 2016. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Timo Nikander 029 551 3250,

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

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Updated 20.4.2017

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Changes in marital status [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-643X. 2016. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 8.6.2023].
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