Marriage Rates by Country: Fresh Statistics & Data
For centuries in the recorded history of humankind, marriage, and marital status has been of the utmost importance in every part of the world. Family formation concerns not just the couple’s relationship, but also their future children, their assets, their place on the socioeconomic map, and even the direction the country is taking regarding their policies. Marriage and divorce rates can tell us a lot about where the country stands in terms of its family administration. Here is the most recent data on the highest and lowest marriage rates globally.
What is the Marriage Rate and Why Does It Matter?
Marriage rate is a number that indicates the number of marriages per 1,000 of the country’s population in a given time period — usually, a year. Comparing marriage rates around the globe and seeing notable differences, as well as countries where the marriage rate has remained unchanged for years or even decades, indicates many factors, from the country’s family culture to how far the gender equality movement has come in a specific location.
Marriage Statistics Around the World
There are many countries where marriage is still treated as one of the most important things in the world, and there are countries where there are fewer and fewer marriages, and the average age of first marriage continuously goes up. Here are statistics by country and region with data sources to put the global stance on marriage into perspective.
North America, Australia, and the UK
Let’s start with the region you are probably most familiar with: North America and the rest of the English-speaking world. In most of these countries, the crude marriage rate has been going down steadily for years. For example, in the US, the current marriage rate is 6 per 1,000 US citizens, although that number can differ from state to state, with Alaska and Utah taking the cake with the highest rates of marriage in the US.
The marriage rate in Canada has also dropped significantly, especially during the 2020-2021 time period. The current rate of marriages in Canada is 2.6 per 1,000 of the population. Canada also has an incredibly high number of unmarried couples who live together by common law, refusing to get married for a variety of reasons.
Modern-day Australia shows a slightly better statistic of 3.3 marriages per 1,000 citizens. The marriage statistics there, like in most countries, were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic limitations and can recover slightly in the upcoming years.
Finally, the UK marriage rate is generally higher than that of other English-speaking countries of the West: last year, there were 7.2 marriages for every 1,000 of the population. The UK also has plenty of registered partnerships, where people register as a couple without getting officially married, and the number of civil partnerships is also an important metric for getting the full picture.
Most European countries, including the European Union, also belong to OECD countries, which has generally attracted some of the most economically and politically stable, as well as richer countries in Europe. But how does this fact influence the crude marriage rate?
Western Europe is where most OECD countries in that region are located. Let’s look at the marriage rates in a few select Western European countries:
- Surprisingly enough, Iceland has one of the highest marriage rates in the region with 5 marriages for every 1,000 of the population.
- Denmark is only slightly behind Iceland in marriage rates with 4.9 marriages per 1,000 of the population.
- Austria and Germany share the same marriage rate of 4.2.
- The Czech Republic, with 4.1 marriages for every 1,000 citizens, is very close to Austria and Germany in this regard.
- Some of the lowest crude marriage rates in Western Europe can be witnessed in Portugal (2.9), France (3.1), and Italy (3.2 marriages for each 1,000 of the population).
Eastern Europe has often been viewed as a more traditional and family-oriented region, especially in recent decades when marriage rates in the Western part of the world are on the decline. But does it translate into different marriage rates? Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- The country with the highest marriage rate in Eastern Europe is Moldova — for every 1,000 citizens, there are 7.2 marriages.
- Belarus and Ukraine are noticeably behind Moldova with 6.2 and 5.9 marriages per 1,000 population recorded last year, respectively.
- The Eastern European country with the lowest marriage rate is Poland: there are only 3.9 marriages for every 1,000 citizens there.
Contrary to what we see in most of the world, where marriage rates have declined significantly over the years, both the marriage rate and the rate of divorces in Asian countries have increased. Let’s take a look at how these trends impacted the number of marriages across Asia:
- The country with the highest share of marriages for every 1,000 citizens is Kazakhstan: with a 9.9 marriage rate, this country surpassed almost all OECD countries in the rest of the world.
- With a 9.6 marriage rate, China is only slightly behind Kazakhstan.
- Vietnam and Singapore have scored almost equally in the Asian marriage rate list with 6.7 and 6.6 marriages per 1,000 of the population, respectively.
- South Korea and Japan are similar in many regards, including their marriage statistics. In recent years, their recorded marriage rate was 5.5 and 5, respectively.
- The country with the lowest marriage rate in Asia is Thailand — only 4.6 marriages take place there per every 1,000 of the population.
Latin America is one of the world regions where men and women have been gradually taking marriage less seriously. It’s also the region where child marriage remains a problem. Both of these factors affect the marriage rates across the region in different ways. Here are the key marriage statistics in Latin America in recent years:
- One of the Latin countries with the highest marriage rate is Barbados — for every 1,000 inhabitants, there are 14.1 marriages.
- Cuba, Guyana, and Ecuador are all pretty high in this rating, with 5, 6.1, and 5.6 marriages for every 1,000 citizens, respectively.
- Brazil has 4.7 marriages per 1,000 of the population, which is a respectable number considering how vast and culturally uneven this country is. Its numbers are similar to Mexico’s, which has a 4.3 marriage rate.
- Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia are bringing up the rear in Latin American marriage rates with 2.4, 3.3, and 2.4, respectively.
For obvious reasons, demographic data can be hard to obtain, so not all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere on the continent have their marriage rates presented for the whole world to see. Here are a few marriage statistics available:
- The country with the highest number of marriages is Algeria, where the marriage rate is 9.6.
- Ethiopia is very close to Algeria in the marriage rate department with 9.3 marriages for every 1,000 citizens.
- Egypt has 7.2 marriages per one thousand inhabitants.
- Libya is a little behind Egypt with 6 marriages for each 1,000 citizens.
- The country with the lowest crude marriage rates in Africa is South Africa, with 3.8 marriages taking place per 1,000 inhabitants.
Which Countries Legalized Same-Sex Marriage and How Common Is it?
When talking about crude marriage rates and crude divorce rates, we mostly think about traditional heterosexual couples. However, gay marriage has been becoming more common over the past several years with same-sex couples getting more rights compared to their social and legal status in the recent past. So, same-sex marriages should not be ignored when we discuss marriage statistics.
Overall, there are 34 countries where gay marriage is legal. They include the US, the UK, Germany, France, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Taiwan. However, the proportion of same-sex marriages is still pretty low: across 24 countries that legalized same-sex marriage, the respective marriage rate ranges from 1% to 3.4% of all marriages.
The crude marriage rate and crude divorce rate won’t tell you everything about the family culture, economic state, and other parameters of a specific country. However, it’s a pretty good starting point to consider when thinking about international marriage. It will definitely be fascinating to see how these statistics change in the upcoming years.