Marriage is on upswing in Latvia, data show

Although about half of marriages in Latvia continue to end in divorce, the number of people “tying the knot” has grown steadily in recent years, according to data analyzed by the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB).

A total of 14,616 marriages were registered in Latvia in 2006, a 16.5 percent increase over 2005, the government agency announced Aug. 10. Not since 1993 have so many marriages been recorded.

In 1990, the year before Latvia regained its independence, a total of 23,619 marriages were recorded. But the following year a decline already was noticeable, with 22,337 marriages recorded. The numbers continue to tumble to 1996, when just 9,634 marriages were recorded.

A low point was reached in 2000 with 9,211 marriages, however, since then the number has steadily increased.

Many marriages end in divorce, but the number has been decreasing in recent years, according to CSB data. In 2000, for example, for every 1,000 marriages there were 666 divorces, or a divorce rate of 66.6 percent. Last year, when a total of 7,249 divorces were registered, the rate was 49.6 percent.

In Latvia, the risk of divorce is highest in the fourth and fifth years of marriage, the CSB said. If a couple can survive that long, the risk of divorce decreases until the next big test, which appears to come in the 14th through 16th years of marriage.

Other data announced by the CSB show that:

  • For about 70 percent of couples in Latvia, it is their first marriage. In 2006 marriages, it was the first time for 71.8 percent of men and 73.2 percent of women.
  • People in their 20s are the most likely marriage prospects. In 2006 marriages, men in their 20s represented 50.3 percent of their total, while women in their 20s represented 58.8 percent of their total.
  • July, August and September continue to be the most popular months for marriage.
  • An increasing number of children are born to unmarried couples. Last year, 43.3 percent of babies were born to unmarried couples, compared to 2000, when the figure was 40 percent.
  • About a third of all marriages in Latvia are between different ethnic groups, but are especially high among ethnic minorities. Last year, 21.7 percent of ethnic Latvian men and 19.9 percent of ethnic Latvian women married someone from another ethnic group. Among ethnic Russians, 41 percent of men and 45.6 percent of women married someone from another ethnic group. By comparison, among ethnic Ukrainians in Latvia, 95.7 percent of men and 95.4 percent of women married outside their group.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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