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Estonia stands out for single mothers and unmarried couples

A comparative analysis done by Statistics Estonia shows that only 39 percent of marriageable age Estonians are married. This is the lowest figure in the EU.

In Estonia, roughly 50 percent of couples who live together are married. In Cyprus, Greece and Malta, for instance, this figure is around 80 percent.

Researchers have noted that marriage is generally more popular in the tradition-loving southern European countries, whereas northern Europe stands out as a hotbed of non-traditional cohabitation forms. The statistics also show that the popularity of marriage is directly linked to the spread of religion in a country.

According to the analysis, every fourth single-family household in Estonia consists of an unmarried couple. The number of cohabiting couples is higher only in Sweden (27 percent).

The need to protect the children born to such families and other family members is what led the government to pass the cohabitation bill last fall.

In addition to cohabiting couples, Estonia also stands out for single parents. One in five Estonian families is made up of a single mother and her children. Only Latvia has a higher number of single mothers (28 percent).

Estonia also ranks high for the number of divorcees. According to the last census, 14 percent of over-15 year-olds are divorced and have not remarried. Once again, only in Latvia is this figure even higher.

Psychologist and family therapist Sirje Agan said that nowadays people value a good and happy relationship over a marriage certificate. "In the past, people lived in larger communities and the support network was not limited to one's partner. Today, the partner tends to be the primary supporter a person has. Families are small, hence, the quality of the relationship is of utmost importance. People spend more time deliberating on their life together and the state of the relationship," she said.

Editor: M. Oll

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