Marriage and divorce in Finland

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The summer months are the most popular wedding months in Finland. And as the summer is (fast?) approaching, we thought it might be appropriate to discuss marriage and divorce in Finland. 

In this blog post, we look at statistical trends in Finnish marriages and divorces. If you want to know more about Finnish wedding traditions, please read one of our earlier blogs here

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Marriages in Finland

Over the years marriage has become less popular in Finland. Last year, 19 579 couples got married. This is the lowest number of marriages in Finland within the last hundred years. The figure includes also same-sex marriages. 

About 76 % of these were first marriages. 19 % of marriages of women were second marriages. For men, 20 % of marriages were second marriages and 4 % were third marriages. 

Within the last couple of decades, 2008 was the year when the largest number of couples got married. Then, 32 947 couples did so. The total number of marriages has been declining steadily since then before hitting the lowest number last year. 

This declining importance of marriage is also visible in relative marriage rates. The rate shows how many out of 1 000 persons eligible to get married actually do so in a year. Eligibility here means being an adult and not already married or in a registered partnership.

 In 2021, the marriage rate for women was about 13 and 14 for men. In 2008, the equivalent number for women was 24.4 and 27.5 for men. 

Same-sex marriages

Same-sex marriage became legal in Finland on March 1, 2017. 

Before same-sex marriage was made possible, same-sex couples in Finland could enter into a registered partnership. This became possible on March 1, 2002.  

In the first year same-sex marriage was possible, 554 same-sex couples got married. Since then, the number of same-sex couples getting married has been between 375 and 395 per year.

Last year saw the lowest number to date. In 2021, there were 375 same-sex marriages. 110 of them were between two men and 265 between two women. 

Since same-sex marriage became legal, marriages between women have been more numerous than marriages between men. Of all same-sex marriages, women couples have counted for 63-71 % of them.  

Marriage age

Last year, the mean age of women entering their first marriage was 32.2 years. For men, it was 34.2 years. 

These were lower than the year before. Then, the mean age of women entering their first marriage was 32.6 years. It was 34.7 years for men. 

The mean age of men entering their second marriage was 48.3 years. For women, it was 45.2 years. 

These were the mean ages of those entering heterosexual marriages. The mean age of women entering a same-age marriage was 35.5 years. In turn, the mean age of men entering a same-sage marriage was 42.1 years. 

Finns are not particularly old when they enter their first marriage. In fact, in comparison with the other Nordic countries, couples in Finland marry younger. For example, in 2019 the mean age of women entering their first marriage was 34.1 in Sweden and 31.9 in Finland. For men, these figures were 36.7 in Sweden and 34.2 in Finland. 

Summer most popular time of the year for marriages

As we mentioned, the summer months are the most popular wedding months in Finland.

Depending on the year, the most popular wedding month is either July or August. In 2021, it was July. Altogether 3 616 couples got married. 3 151 couples, in turn, got married in August. These figures include also same-sex couples.   

June, our first summer month, used to be a relatively popular wedding month. Most likely because of Mid-Summer. It has, however, been losing its importance, especially within the last few years. Nowadays, it can actually be less popular as a wedding month than September. For example, in 2021, 1 891 couples got married in June, 1 906 in September

The share of June and September weddings of all weddings in a year during the last two decades. Source: Statistics Finland

In 2021, the most popular wedding day, on the other hand, was in August. It was August 21. Then, 554 couples got married. The second most popular wedding day was 7.8. On that day, 469 couples got married. 

Divorce in Finland

Divorces in Finland do not seem to show visible trends in the 21st century. Annual changes in divorces are so small that the divorce rate has stayed relatively stable. It stands at 13-14 for both women and men. Similar to the marriage rate, the divorce rate reflects the number of divorces annually per 1 000 married men or women. 

Last year, however, the divorce rate dipped blow these rather stable numbers. With 12 166 divorces, the divorce rate in Finland in 2021 stood at 12.3 for women and 12.2 for men. This was the lowest divorce rate in Finland since the early 1990s.

Of the about 12 000 divorces, 85 were same-sex divorces. An additional 53 couples finished their registered partnership.

At the time of their divorce from their first marriage, the mean age of women was 41.4 years. Men, in turn, were 43.7 years old. Within the last decade or so, the mean ages of both women and men have increased slightly. In 2011, the mean age of women getting a divorce from their first marriage was 40.4 years. For men, it was 42.7. 

For both women (48 %) and men (49 %), nearly half of those divorced have been married 10 years or less. 

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Minna
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