Archive:Marriages and births in the Czech Republic
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Family pattern in the Czech Republic – first child later and outside marriage
- Author: Michaela Němečková, Roman Kurkin, Terezie Štyglerová (Czech Statistical Office, Population Statistics Department)
- Data extracted in December 2015.
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After sharp changes, which began in the early 1990s, the demographic pattern of the Czech Republic is now stabilising. People marry less often and later, remain single more frequently and prefer cohabitation. However, still more than half of the population aged 20 and over is married. The divorce rate as a general trend stopped increasing and stabilised at 45-50 % of marriages terminating in divorce. The total fertility rate reached its minimum value (slightly above 1.1) at the turn of the 21st century, but it partly reflected a significant shift of motherhood to a later age. The level of the "lowest-low fertility" was surpassed only in 2006. The share of children born outside marriage has continually increased and is approaching 50 percent.
Main statistical findings
A quarter of the population aged 20 and over are single
According to the 2011 Population and Housing Census results more than half (52.8 %) of the Czech population aged 20 and over were married. Exactly a quarter of the population were single (never married or in a registered partnership), while divorced people made up 12.8 % and widowed persons accounted for 9.1 % of the Czech population. In the context of the European Union, the Czech Republic falls amongst the countries with the highest proportions of divorced people in the adult population, with higher shares recorded only in Latvia and Estonia (a total of 7.4 % of EU citizens were divorced on the Census day).
There was a significant decrease in the share of married people in the population of the Czech Republic between the 2001 and the 2011 Censuses – from 60.1 % to 52.8 %; in contrast the proportion of single persons grew from 19.0 % to 25.0 %. The share of divorced inhabitants increased from 10.3 % to 12.8 % and the proportion of widowed people slightly decreased from 9.9 % to 9.1 %. These changes were closely related to the decrease in nuptiality (incl. remarriage rate), the rise in the divorce rate, diversification of forms of family life and a decline in mortality.
The vast majority (95 %) of the population of the Czech Republic aged 20-24 have never married. However, the share of never married persons decreases with increasing age – in the age group 30-34 the proportion of single persons was already less than half and married persons were a slight majority. The highest share of married persons – almost 70 % – was in the age group 55 to 64. Among the elderly, the proportion of married people dropped, while the share of widowed persons increased. More than half of the population aged 75 and over were widowed. Divorced persons were most common in the age group 40 to 54, where they made up around 22 % of the population.
There are significant gender differences in the structure of the population by marital status. Men aged 20 and over were more often single (30.2 %) than women (20.0 %), which was true for all five-year age groups. The most distinct differences were in the age group 20 to 39. In the population aged 20 and over men also had a higher share than women of married persons (54.8 % vs. 51.0 %), which resulted from the higher proportion of married men in older age groups (especially 60 and over), where women were more often widowed. The relative weight of widowed people was the most gender-differentiated: widowed women accounted for 14.7 % of the female population aged 20 and over, while widowed men accounted for only 3.1 % of the male population. In contrast, the proportions of divorced men and women were the closest: 14.1 % among women and 11.5 % among men.
First marriage 4 years later than at the turn of the century
The number of marriages shows a long-term decreasing trend. After 2000, the strongest decline was between 2008 and 2011. While there were 52–53 thousand marriages a year at the beginning of the 21st century, there were 43.5 thousand in 2013, which was the lowest figure in the history of Czech demographic statistics. The crude marriage rate (number of marriages per 1 000 inhabitants) fell from 5.4‰ to 4.1‰ between 2000 and 2013.
The decrease in the number of marriages resulted from a decline in size of the population of marriageable age as well as from a decrease in the intensity of nuptiality. According to the data from nuptiality life tables, only approximately 60 % of women and 53 % of men will enter into a first marriage before reaching the age of 50 under unchanged current conditions, compared with 74 % and 69 % respectively in 2000. Until the beginning of the 1990s as many as 90-95 % of the population entered into a marriage in the Czech Republic. Nowadays, men and women enter into their first marriage at a later age than before. Mean age at first marriage increased by almost 4 years between 2000 and 2013 for both men and women. In 2013 the mean age at first marriage was 31.3 for grooms (27.6 in 2000) and 28.5 for brides (24.6 in 2000). Women enter into marriage on average three years earlier than men.
In the Czech Republic, marriages have always been very unequally seasonally (by month of occurrence) distributed. A long time ago, this seasonality was driven by the agricultural year and the liturgical calendar, but at present the most important factors are probably weather conditions and the possibilities of arranging the wedding ceremony. Weddings are mostly held on Saturdays (71 % in 2013) or Fridays (22 %). The engaged couple usually choose the wedding date themselves and often choose an exceptional date (for example the highest number of marriages in a 25-year history were entered into on 2007/07/07).
For many years, the lowest number of marriages was registered in May. This was influenced by a superstition that if the woman marries in May, she will risk dying. Only since 2001 has the popularity of this month risen, and May has been replaced by January as the least popular month for a wedding. Since 2008 the number of marriages entered into in May has been even higher than e.g. the number of those entered into in March, but the number is still below-average. The least popular season for weddings in the Czech Republic is generally the winter, i.e. the months of January, February and December. In contrast, the most frequent months for a wedding are June, July, August and September. In these four months almost two thirds of all marriages are entered into; the peak is usually in June.
Increase in divorce rate of long-lasting marriages
As a consequence of a decrease in the number of marriages, the number of divorces decreased too: from 30–33 thousand registered in the years 2000–2004 to 26–28 thousand in 2011–2013. The crude divorce rate went down from 2.9–3.2‰ to 2.5–2.7‰. However, the divorce rate in the Czech Republic is still one of the highest in Europe.
The total divorce rate (the share of marriages terminating in divorce provided unchanged duration-specific divorce rates) ranges between 45 and 50 % in the Czech Republic in the 21st century. At the same time the average duration of marriage at divorce rose (to 13 years in 2013) as a result of an increase in the number of divorces of long-lasting marriages (lasted 20 years or longer), while the share of divorces of short-lasting marriages decreased.
Living in cohabitation more popular than marriage only among the youngest couples
According to the 2011 Census, the proportion of people who were living in cohabitation (or in consensual unions) in the Czech Republic was below the EU average: in the Czech Republic, the share of cohabiting persons in the population aged 20 and over was 5.7 % (a total of 473 420 persons), compared with the EU share of 8.8 %. In the EU, the percentage of people who declared to be living in a consensual union was higher in the age group 20-29 years (15.0 %) than in the age group 30-49 years (12.6 %), while in the Czech Republic these shares were equal, at 8.1 %. At the age 50 and over, only 2.8 % of people lived in a consensual union in the Czech Republic at the time of the last census.
Consensual unions made up 11.3 % of all couples (at the time of the 2011 Census). Consensual unions were most common in the younger age groups: almost two thirds of people aged 20-24 who were living in a couple were in a consensual union. The share of those who were living in marriage grew with increasing age – in the age group 30-34 the proportion of cohabiting persons was only 22 %. A consensual union was a more frequent form of living in couple among men than women, with the exception of the elderly. This gender difference was most noticeable in the age group 25-29, where cohabiting men accounted for 47.5 % of all men living in a couple, compared with only 37.1 % for women.
First child, then marriage
In the 1990s, the number of live births fell as a consequence of political, social and economic changes in Czech society. Women postponed their maternity and devoted themselves to their education, career, arranging their own housing etc. more often than earlier. In 1999, the lowest number of live births in Czech history was registered (89.5 thousand). The number of live births started to increase at the beginning of the 21st century and the revival in fertility intensity came particularly in 2004–2008, when the number of live births rose to 120 thousand in 2008. But in the following years the annual numbers of live births fell again, mainly due to the economic crisis and the decrease in the number of women at reproductive age: there were 117–118 thousand live births per year in 2009–2010 and 107–109 thousand in 2011–2013.
At the same time the structure of women at childbirth by marital status changed. The number and proportion of unmarried mothers at birth increased and the rise in the share of live births outside marriage became one of the most significant features of demographic development in the Czech Republic in the last two decades. Until the 1990s the share of children born to unmarried mothers was below 10 %, in 2000 it was 22 % and in 2013 it was 45 %. The share increased for all orders of birth. The highest proportion of live births outside marriage is recorded for the first birth (almost 56 % in 2013), the lowest for second births (33 % in 2013). The fact that some women get married after giving birth to their first child is confirmed by a higher mean age of women at first marriage than the mean age at birth of the first child.
The total fertility rate had a similar development to the number of live births. It increased from a historical minimum of 1.13 children per woman in 1999 to 1.50 in 2008, with the most significant increases between 2004 and 2008. The total fertility rate in 2013 stood at 1.46 children per woman, i.e. still at a low fertility level.
From 2000 to 2013, the mean age of women at childbirth rose continuously; at the beginning of the 21st century the year-on-year increases were high (on average by 0.3 per year up to 2007), after 2010 they were lower (by 0.1 per year). In total, the mean age of women at childbirth increased from 27.2 to 29.9, i.e. by 2.7 years between 2000 and 2013. The age of the highest fertility intensity shifted from 26 to 30; the fertility of 35-39 year-old women increased almost three times.
Similarly, the timing of the birth of the first child changed. In 2000, the highest number of first children per 1,000 women was recorded at the age of 24, while in 2013 it was at 29. The mean age of women at birth of the first child increased from 25.0 to 28.1 from 2000 to 2013, i.e. by more than 3 years. In 2013, women had their second child at the age of 31.0 on average (at 28.1 in 2000). The age of women who gave birth to a third or higher child changed the least markedly: in 2013 their mean age was 33.2 while in 2000 it was 31.7.