In Latvia, spouses most often divorce after 5 to 9 years of cohabitation

50 years ago in Latvia people got married more often, but they also got divorced more often. Between 1970 and 1990, an average of 10 marriages and five divorces per 1,000 inhabitants were made each year. With the restoration of independence, the tendencies of marriage and divorce changed. The was a rapid decrease in not only the number of marriages (on average per 1,000 inhabitants in the last 30 years - only five marriages per year) but also the number of divorces (on average, three divorces per 1,000 inhabitants), according to the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) publication “Demography, 2021”, which collected data on demographic processes in Latvia.
23.10.2021. Ilze Šteinfelde

Last year, there were 5,206 divorces, which is the lowest number of divorces in Latvia during the last five years. Nevertheless, in Latvia, as in Lithuania, the number of divorces is the highest in the European Union - 3.1 per 1,000 inhabitants.

CSB data show that 13.3 years is the average duration of a marriage at the time of its divorce. It has been declining slightly in recent years, but in 50 years, compared with 1971, the length of a marriage that ends in divorce has increased by almost 40%, with an increase in the proportion of divorced marriages lasting 20 years or more.

Independence freed people from broken marital ties

The number of marriages increased shortly before the economic crisis in 2006 and 2007, as the country's economic situation improved, followed by a sharp decline. Fewer marriages were also made in 2020, when couples postponed the wedding ceremony due to restrictions on gatherings during the pandemic, the CSB concludes.

The number of divorces increased significantly in 1992 with the restoration of Latvia's independence, reaching the highest level in the last 50 years - 5.6 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants. The increase is related to the replacement of the old USSR passports with the passports of the Republic of Latvia, at the same time officially divorcing marriages that had actually broken up in previous years. In 2011, when a law was passed that allows divorce not only in court but also with a sworn notary, a sharp increase in the number of divorces followed.

The number of marriages per 1,000 inhabitants in Latvia is relatively high compared to other European Union (EU) countries - in 2019, 6.7 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants were made in Latvia, which together with Romania ranks 3rd behind Cyprus (8.9 per 1000 inhabitants) and Lithuania (7.0). The least marriages are in Portugal and Slovenia (3.2). The number of divorces per 1,000 inhabitants among the EU countries in 2019 was the highest in Latvia and Lithuania - 3.1, the lowest - in Malta (0.7).

Almost every fourth divorced marriage lasts no longer than 4 years.

Half of the divorces have minor children

In 2020, 5,206 marriages were divorced. Almost one in four marriages that ended in divorce lasted 0-4 years (23%) or lasted 5-9 years (24.8%). A relatively large proportion of marriages are officially divorced after quite a long period of time - 24.3% of them lasted longer than 20 years.

Of all divorces in 2020, 53.7% (the highest rate in the last 5 years) were families with minor children and 4,331 children lived in them.

Not in a hurry to tie the knot

At the beginning of 2021, 41% of adult women (18 years and older) and 49% of men were married. Of all unmarried adults of the respective sex, 62% of men and 57% of women were under 35 years of age. Marriage statistics for 2020 show that men registered their first marriage at the average age of 32, and women at the age of 30.

The number of marriages in younger age groups is decreasing every year. In 1970, almost half of women (49.1%) and one in four men (26.1%) between the ages of 20 and 24 were married. In 2021, the situation has changed, with only 8.7% of women and 3.4% of men between the ages of 20 and 24 being married. In 1970, marriages were most common at the age of 20-24 (41.8% of men and 42.2% of women), but in 2020, men were most likely to marry at the age of 30-34 (23.3%) and women at the age of 25-29 (24.7%).


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