Marriages and divorces

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit F2: Population and migration.

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 08/09/2021
2.2. Metadata last posted 08/09/2021
2.3. Metadata last update 08/09/2021

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data on marriages and divorces at national level are transmitted by the National Statistics Institutes on voluntary basis in the context of the annual demographic data collections in the field of demography carried out by Eurostat as follows:

Data Collection

Info & Legislation

Unified Demographic

The most in-depth annual national and regional demographic and migration data collection. The data relate to populations, births, deaths, immigrants, emigrants, marriages and divorces, and is broken down into several categories (Article 3 of Regulation (EU) No 1260/2013 and Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007).

The UNIDEMO questionnaire collects annual mandatory and voluntary demographic data from the National Statistical Institutes.

The completeness of the demographic data collected on a voluntary basis depends on the availability and completeness of information provided by the National Statistical Institutes.

 The following statistics on marriages and divorces are collected from the National Statistical Institutes:

  • Marriages by previous legal union status of marrying persons;
  • First-time marrying persons by age, year of birth and sex;
  • Marriages by country of citizenship of marrying persons;
  • Marriages by country of birth of marrying persons;
  • Divorces by duration and year of the marriage;
  • Divorces by country of citizenship of spouses;
  • Divorces by country of birth of spouses.

Statistics on marriages and divorces: based on the different breakdowns of data on marriages and divorces received, Eurostat produces the following:

  • Statistics available in the online table Marriage indicators (demo_nind):

- Total number of marriages;

- Crude marriage rate;

- Mean age at first marriage – male;

- Mean age at first marriage – female;

- Total first marriage rate – male;

- Total first marriage rate – female;

- Proportion of first marriages – male;

- Proportion of first marriages – female.

  • Statistics available in the online table Divorce indicators (demo_ndivind):

- Total number of divorces;

- Crude divorce rate;

- Divorces per 100 marriages.

3.2. Classification system

Not applicable.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Crude marriage rate : the ratio of the number of marriages during the year to the average population in that year. The value is expressed per 1000 inhabitants.

Crude divorce rate: the ratio of the number of divorces during the year to the average population in that year. The value is expressed per 1000 inhabitants.

Legal marital status: marital status is the legally defined marital state.

Mean age at first marriage: the mean age of men and women when they get married for the first time.

First marriage rates: the ratio of the number of first time marrying person of age x to the average population of age x, separately for men and women.

Total first marriage rate: it is computed by adding the first marriage rates by age in a given year, separately for men and women.

Proportion of first marriages: the ratio of the number of first time marriages in the total number of marriages in a given year, by sex.

Divorces per 100 marriages: the ratio between the number of divorces (independently of the duration) and the number of marriages in a given year.

Age and duration definition:

Most National Statistical Institutes of the EU Member States provide data on the number of first marriages by both dimensions: age and year of birth of the first-time marrying persons. First marriage statistics are compiled and disseminated, based on the data collected, only by age at last birthday (also referred as age completed).

Most National Statistical Institutes of the EU Member States provide data on the number of divorces by both dimensions: duration and year of marriage. Divorces are compiled and disseminated, based on data collected, only by duration of marriage reached during the year.

Eurostat uses the concept of age completed when calculating marriage indicators.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit used is ''number'', as indicated in the online database or by the title of tables.

3.6. Statistical population

The statistical population is the total population. For more information on the population concepts used, please see the reference metadata on Population.

3.7. Reference area

Marriage and divorce statistics are disseminated as available by single country and by aggregates of countries, as follows:

a) EU member countries

b) EU candidate countries.

c) European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries

d) Other countries: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Russian Federation, San Marino, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) and Ukraine.

e) The geographical aggregates: European Union and euro area (dissemination covers at least their current and previous form), the European Economic Area (EEA) and the EFTA.

For details on geographical changes that have taken place over time, see the notes by country under 15.2 Comparability over time.

3.8. Coverage - Time

The time series compiled and published in the Eurostat database varies, depending on the breakdowns, with the longest time series starting in 1960 and continuing through to the latest available reference year.

The completeness of the time series for marriage and divorce statistics collected on a voluntary basis depends on the availability of data sent to Eurostat by the National Statistical Institutes.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Data on marriages and divorces are disseminated as integer number and as rates.

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period for marriage and divorces data is the calendar year in which the events occurred.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Data are collected on voluntary basis.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society and Amending Regulation (EU) No 2015/759 of 29 April 2015 as regards the violation of statistical confidentiality.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar


Data Collection

March of year T+1

Marriages and divorces in year T-1 by detailed breakdowns referring to spouses or duration.

Marriage and divorce indicators of year T-1

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Statistics are continuously revised according to the most recent data released and sent to Eurostat by the National Statistical Institutes. The geographical aggregates and the demographic indicators are revised accordingly.

The statistics are published in line with the information in 8.1 Release calendar and 17.1 Data revision-policy.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics Explained articles on Eurostat website

Eurostat yearbook

Eurostat regional yearbook

Domain-specific publications

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Eurostat's Data Navigation Tree.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

"Demographic statistics: A review of definitions and methods of collection in 44 European countries", Eurostat, 2015 edition.

More information regarding methodology by country is in annex.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Not available.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Quality assurance is part of data processing. Statistical products and processes are systematically reviewed in compliance with Quality Assurance Framework of the European Statistical System.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

No quality assessment is available.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Demographic trend and developments have a strong impact on the societies of the countries and of the EU. Demographic statistics on the size and structure of Europe's population are used in a wide range of economic, social and environmental policy areas.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No user' satisfaction surveys have been carried out.

12.3. Completeness

Data completeness depends on the availability of data from the National Statistical Institutes.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Not available.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

For information on the timeliness of data release, see 8.1 Release calendar.

14.2. Punctuality

Not applicable.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Marriage and divorce data are based on the legal civil status as recognised by the law of each country.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Breaks in data series could compromise comparability over time. Any breaks in data series due to changes in methodology and data processing or revisions to data counts reported by the countries in question are documented in the Eurostat database using flag b (break in series).

The population data for 2011 and beyond take into account the results of the latest population census (held in 2011). The time series of populations between the previous census and 2011 was revised by some countries at the end of 2013, taking Eurostat’s recommendation into account (for more information about data revision per country, see 17. Data revision).

Over time, certain countries have been subject to geographical changes (see below):

  • FX stands for Metropolitan France, including Corsica and excluding the overseas departments (DOM).
  • FR stands for France as a whole, including the overseas departments (DOM). Data on Saint Barthelemey are excluded as of 1.1.2012. Data on Mayotte are included, starting with the statistics on vital events for the reference year 2014 and the statistics on population on 1.1.2015.
  • The European geographical aggregates (EU, EA and EEA) include FX up to 1997 and FR from 1998 onwards. This change is indicated by flag b (break in series) in the EU statistics for 1998.
  • The time series for Germany (DE_TOT) refer to the Federal Republic of Germany after 3 October 1990.
  • As of 1.1.1975, data for Cyprus (CY) refer to the government-controlled area;
  • Up to 1.1.2000, population data for Malta (MT) refer to the Maltese population only. However, as of 2001 figures also include foreign residents. This is indicated by flag b (break in series) in the figures for 2001.
  • As of 1.1.2010, the statistics on the permanent resident population of Switzerland (CH) include all people in the asylum process who have been residing in Switzerland for 12 months or more. The change is reflected in Eurostat population figures starting with populations reported on 1.1.2011.
  • As of 1.1.2011, Belgium (BE) national population figures refer to all registered people, including asylum seekers.
  • As of 1.1.2010, Poland (PL) revised the methodology used to estimate the usually resident population. This is indicated by a flag b (break in series) in the figures for 2010.
  • As of 1.1.2012, the reported Estonian (EE) population includes the migration component, whereas this was not included before.

These changes may affect also the statistics on marriages and divorces and are signalled by the flag b.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Not applicable.

15.4. Coherence - internal

See 8.1. Release calendar.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not applicable.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Eurostat’s policy on demographic statistics is to carry out updates as soon it receives data and at any time during the year.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Marriage and divorce statistics are continuously revised according to the most recent data released and sent to Eurostat by the National Statistical Institutes. The geographical aggregates and the demographic indicators are revised accordingly.

The status of the data is indicated by using flags (p = provisional data; e = estimated; b = break in time series; f = forecast).

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data are collected by Eurostat from the National Statistical Institutes.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data are collected annually.

18.3. Data collection

The annual data collections are carried out by Eurostat using data provided by the national statistical institutes in order to publish updated statistics. The demographic data collections contain both mandatory and voluntary data (see 3.1. Data description).

18.4. Data validation

Eurostat checks raw data sent by the national statistical offices to see if the total of a variable is consistent with the breakdown by different variables. It also does cross-checks to see if different breakdowns of the same variable are consistent.

Based on the detailed collected data, Eurostat calculates a series of demographic statistics. The demographic indicators calculated in the standard way are validated in the context of the available time series. The validation rules include checking the plausibility of the most up-to-date annual value and two consecutive annual values. Mathematical checks are carried out using standard deviations and the weighted average.

For more information on data validation, see

18.5. Data compilation

Based on the detailed national figures on population and other demographic events sent to Eurostat by the National Statistical Institutes, Eurostat derives/calculates demographic indicators and geographical aggregates using common calculation methods.

Geographical aggregation

For statistics on live births expressed in numbers, geographical aggregation is done by arithmetical sum if no values are missing from the components of the geographical aggregate in question. Otherwise the geographical aggregates are not calculated.

For rates, the geographical aggregates are calculated using the same method as for an individual country. The input for calculation is the aggregated data described above.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top

Not available.

Related metadata Top
demo_pop_esms - Population (national level)

Annexes Top
Statistics on marriages and divorces – Documentation on methodology by country