Published: 18 June 2021

Decrease in the number of marriages contracted slowed down

Corrected on 18 June 2021. The corrected figures in the text are indicated in red. A figure in the release has also been corrected.

According to Statistics Finland’s data on population changes, 22,082 marriages were entered into in 2020, the number was 22,296 in the year before. The number of marriages entered into decreased by only 214 in a year, while the number went down by 1,503 in the year before. A total of 21,687 marriages between opposite-sex couples were entered into, which is 233 fewer than in the year before. Same-sex partners entered into 395 marriages, 19 more than in the previous year.

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 Table 121e 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, the figures for 2017 to 2020 do not include same-sex marriages, which numbered 554, 387 and 395 in the above-mentioned years, or divorces, which amounted to 2, 29, 54 and 88.

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2020, opposite-sex couples

Number of marriages and divorces 1990–2020, opposite-sex couples

The marriage rate of opposite-sex couples, i.e. the ratio of persons who have entered into marriage of those who could marry, has decreased nearly continuously since 2008. In 2020, women’s decrease in the marriage rate halted, while the marriage rate for men continued to fall. In 2020, women’s marriage rate was 15.7 per one thousand women of age living in a non-married and non-registered partnership, which is the same as one year previously. The corresponding rate for men was 16.9 per cent, which was 0.4 percentage points lower than in the previous year.

The growth in women’s marriage rate in the 43 to 46 and 48 to 50 age groups has most effect on that the decrease in the marriage rate among women halted in 2020. The marriage rate decreased for men in almost all age groups compared with the previous year. As an exception to above, the marriage rate grew slightly in the age group of men aged 50 to 54 (Appendix figure 2, marriage rate for men).

As with women, the marriage rate of men aged 49 differs clearly from the normal marriage age model, according to which the marriage rate decreases with age. The strong rise in the marriage rate for 49-year-olds is explained by the foundations of the survivor’s pension, by which getting married before the age of 50 is of key importance (Survivor's pension, Act 2007/568).

Marriage rate by age of woman 2010, 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex couples

Marriage rate by age of woman 2010, 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex couples

Rise in the age at the time of first marriage continued

In 2020, the average age of women and men entering into their first marriage rose for opposite-sex couples. The average age of women was 32.6 years, in the previous year 32.1, and that of men 34.7 years, in the year before 34.2. The average age of women entering into their second marriage was 45.5 years and it rose by four-tenths from the year before. The corresponding average age of men was 48.7 years, up by seven-tenths in a year.

In 2020, the average age in marriages between two women was 35.8 years, the same as one year earlier. Correspondingly, the average age in marriages between two men was 42.2 years, five-tenths higher than in the previous year.

Number of remarriages slightly higher than before

The year 2020 was the third year when the number of remarried women grew slightly from the previous year. The number of remarriages also grew slightly among men. For both women and men, the share of first marriages in all marriages entered into decreased to 73 per cent.

Twenty-two per cent of all marriages contracted by women were second marriages, and nearly four per cent were third marriages. The corresponding shares for men were of the same magnitude.

August the most popular month for marriage in 2020

Number of marriages by month 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex and same-sex couples (The figure was corrected  on 18 Juni 2021)

Number of marriages by month 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex and same-sex couples (The figure was corrected  on 18 Juni 2021)

The most popular month for entering into marriage in 2020 was August, when 3,780 couples got married. July was the second most popular with 2,888 couples. In the 2010s, July and August have alternated as the most popular month of marriage. In 2020, the third most popular month for getting married was exceptionally February.

In February 2020, nearly twice as many marriages were entered into as in the corresponding period of the previous year. On the other hand, the exceptional number in February is due to the “extra day”, the leap day, which has often been a popular day for marriage. In addition, February had one particularly popular wedding day, 20 February 2020, when 19 per cent of all marriages for the whole month were entered into.

The number of marriages entered into in August and October also grew clearly from the year before. Correspondingly, the exceptionally large number of those married in October is explained by one day, 10 October 2020. On 10 October, 30 per cent of all marriages entered into in October were contracted.

To counterbalance the previous exceptional months, the numbers of marriages entered into went down significantly in May to July compared to the previous year.

In 2020 the number of marriages entered into was highest on 8 August, when 705 couples were married. The second most marriages were entered into on 10 October, 583 couples, and the third most on 1 August, 467 couples.

Number of divorces grew slightly

In 2020, a total of 13,478 marriages ended in divorce. Except for 88 of them, all were divorces where the spouses were of opposite sexes. The number of divorces between opposite-sex spouses increased by 79 from the previous year. The annual number of divorces has fluctuated without a clear direction. The year 2020 was the second successive year when the number of divorces grew. 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.

The divorce rate grew for women in nearly all age groups compared with the previous year. The divorce rate also increased for men in most age groups, with the exception of the 45 to 54 age group and those aged 65 or over, whose divorce rate decreased from the previous year (Appendix figure 3).

Divorce rate by age of woman 2010, 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex couples

Divorce rate by age of woman 2010, 2019 and 2020, opposite-sex couples

In first marriages between opposite-sex spouses, the average age for women at the time of divorce was 41.1 years. The corresponding average age of men was 43.4 in 2020. The average ages of both sexes at the time of divorce remained unchanged from the year before..

Nearly 400 same-sex couples got married, almost 160 divorced

In 2020, same-sex partners entered into 395 marriages of which 123 were between two men and 272 between two women. The number increased only a little from the previous year when 376 marriages were contracted. Women entered into nine marriages more than in the previous year, men into 10 more.

The number of same-sex partnerships ending in divorce in 2015 to 2017 was close to 130. After that, the number of divorces has decreased. In 2019, they numbered 72 and in 2020 slightly fewer, 69. In order to gain a better understanding of the total number of divorces of same-sex couples, divorces of married same-sex couples, 88 in 2020, must be added to the figure above Then the number is 157, which is clearly higher than the divorces of the previous year, 126. The sizeable increase in the number is due to growth in the number of same-sex divorces, from 54 to 88.

Although the number of divorces between same-sex couples was highest in statistical history, it was not in relative terms, 21 divorces per 1,000 married couples or registered partnerships. At its highest, the divorce rate was 29 in 2007. However, that year seems to have been an exceptional year, because in the year preceding it the figure was 15 and in the following year it fell to 17. In the last five years, the figure has varied between 18 and 22.

Twenty-one of same-sex partnerships that ended in divorce were between men and 48 between women in 2020. Correspondingly, 25 of same-sex marriages ending in divorce were between men and 63 between women.

Changes in marital status, mean age of men and women at first marriage in 2011–2020

  Year
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Contracted marriages 30 557 31 008 27 238 26 551 26 735 26 503 26 542 23 799 22 296 22 082
Divorces 13 681 13 251 13 989 13 915 14 170 13 775 13 485 13 145 13 365 13 478
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, women 30,6 30,8 30,6 30,7 31,2 31,4 31,7 31,7 32,1 32,6
Mean age at first marriage, opposite-sex couples, men 32,9 33,1 32,8 32,9 33,4 33,7 33,9 33,9 34,2 34,7
Mean age at first divorce, opposite–sex couples, women 40,4 40,0 40,0 39,9 40,4 40,5 40,6 40,8 41,1 41,1
Mean age at first divorce, opposite-sex couples, men 42,7 42,3 42,3 42,3 42,8 42,8 42,9 43,0 43,4 43,4
1) Divorces, same-sex couples and divorces from registered partnerships 85 103 101 109 133 127 133 132 126 157
1) Until 2016 divorces from registered partnerships. From 2017 on divorces from same-sex marriages and divorces from registered partnerships.

Source: Changes in marital status 2020. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, Auli Hämäläinen 029 551 2260, info@stat.fi

Head of Department in charge: Hannele Orjala

Publication in pdf-format (304.0 kB)

Tables

Tables in databases

Figures
Quality descriptions

Updated 18.6.2021

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Changes in marital status [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-643X. 2020. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.10.2021].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ssaaty/2020/ssaaty_2020_2021-06-18_tie_001_en.html