More Swiss say marriage is not for life

Forever in my heart: the number of divorces rose by 18 per cent last year

The Swiss are waiting longer to tie the knot and have children, and a growing number of marriages end in divorce, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

This content was published on June 20, 2006 - 14:50

Divorces rose by 18 per cent last year – especially among those who have been together for many years – while the number of couples getting married has stabilised in Switzerland after a ten-year decline.

The number of divorce settlements - 21,300 in 2005 - has increased since changes to Swiss law in June 2004. One of the two parties now only has to wait two years before they can file for divorce.

But at this current rate, one in two new marriages will end in divorce warns the federal report.

"In a rapidly changing society full of uncertainty couples tend to over-invest in their relationship to make sure things work," said Muriel Offer-Burga, a marriage counsellor from Neuchâtel in an interview with Swiss television.

"Nowadays at the first sign of difficulty couples call it a day. Also, now that more women are financially independent they are less prepared to accept certain things from their partner."

The statistics office also highlights a growing number of divorces among more established couples – up 30 per cent among those married over 15 years.

"More couples who have been together for 15, 20 or even 30 years are reaching a stage when they want to realise things in their married lives but they are not totally happy with their situation," said Offer-Burga.


A total of 40,100 new marriages were celebrated in 2005. This represents a slight increase on the previous year and a stabilisation after six years' steady decline in the number of new marriages that ended in 1996.

The Swiss are also getting hitched later in life. In 2005 the average age for women was 28.7, and 31 for men.

The slight rise in new marriages can be partly explained by the number of couples getting remarried, according to the federal report. In total, at 13,800 new wedding ceremonies in 2005 one of the two partners had already taken their vows before.


The number of children born last year in Switzerland is also stable - 79,000 new babies.

The fertility rate of the Swiss remains unchanged at 1.42 children per family and women are waiting longer before having their first child – 29.5 years old on average.

The figures for children born out of wedlock are also up - 13.7 per cent - but more women continue to get married before having a baby.

The Swiss population statistics also show that the Swiss are living slightly longer than in previous years. In 2005 average life expectancy for men was 78.7 years and 83.9 years for women.

The five-year longevity difference between the sexes has stabilised after a jump from 7.1 to 5.1 years difference between 1991 and 2004.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

According to the Federal Statistics Office report looking at population developments, in 2005:
40,100 couples got married (+1.7%) last year; at 13,800 of the weddings, one of the partners was remarrying.
21,300 marriages ended in divorce (+18.8%).
79,900 children were born in 2005 (-0.2% less than in 2001). This figure has been stable since 2001.
Births outside wedlock rose by 13.7%.
The average age to get married was 28.7 for women and 31 for men.
Average life expectancy for men was 78.7 and 83.9 for women.

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