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In the year 2015, there were about 18 million married couples in Germany. The number of existing marriages has continuously declined since the 1970s. This is due to the surplus of dissolutions of marriages (through death, divorce or annulment) over new marriages. In recent years, on average the number of marriage dissolutions exceeded that of new marriages by 150,000. About two out of three marriage dissolutions are caused by the death of a spouse, about one-third end by divorce.

From the 1970s to the first decade of this century, the divorce tendency has increased. Should the divorce rate of 2014 continue for another 25 years, then about 35% of all marriages will end in divorce. The highest divorce trend occurred in the years 2003 and 2004 with over 42%. In western Germany, the trend was interrupted in the second half of the 1970s with the change of the divorce law and since then the prescribed one-year separation. When this divorce law was transferred to eastern Germany, there was also a brief drop in divorces there. The ensuing rise made the divorce frequency almost reach the western German level. Since 2006, the gap is quite constant.

An observation of marriage cohorts reveals a continuous rise in the divorce tendency. While among the marriage cohorts from the mid-1960s one fifth and from the mid-1970s one fourth were divorced after 25 years of marriage, this percentage among the marriage cohorts from the mid-1980s already reaches more than one third.

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© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2017