Changing patterns in marriage and unions across the world

the Monday 06 June 2016 at l’Ined, salle Sauvy, de 11h30 à 12h30

Presented by Vladimira Kantorova (Population Data Unit, Population Division, United Nations) ; discussant : Véronique Hertrich (Ined)

While the majority of women and men eventually marry or live in a cohabiting union at some point in their lives, marriage is undergoing tremendous changes as people live longer and marry later and as marriage and union formation and dissolution patterns vary across the life course and across societies. New, comprehensive data on marital and union status provide opportunities for assessing these changes across countries and over time as more women and men postpone marriage, intentionally remain single or cohabit or live together in different types of unions. World Marriage Data 2015, a data set published by the United Nations Population Division, provides a comparable and up-to-date set of data on the marital and union status of men and women by 5-year age groups for 231 countries or areas of the world from around 1970 to 2014.

The presentation is structured in two parts. The first part of the presentation compares estimates of marital status indicators drawn from 1890 data collection operations – both surveys and censuses – and national estimates since 1970, and assesses the degree to which each type of data source introduces biases to analysis of marital status patterns. The second part looks at the comparative evidence for changes in marriage and union patterns across countries and larger, geographic regions: How much is marriage postponed and in which parts of the world? Where is early marriage and union formation still prevalent? What are the trends in age at first marriage for men and women, and how does this correlate with age gap between spouses?  To what extent is marriage replaced by cohabiting unions and where in the life course is this happening? Are women and men living a relatively shorter or longer time of their lives in marriage and unions?  What proportion of women and men never marry? Several implications of marriage and union patterns on women’s and men’s lives are also considered.


Vladimira Kantorova

Vladimira Kantorova is Population Affairs Officer in the United Nations Population Division currently working on the project “Making Family Planning Count”, a three-year initiative (2015-2017) financed by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the quantity, quality, transparency and accessibility of family planning indicators, and of the population data that underlie models of the determinants and impact of improved accessibility of family planning.  Her main research interests include fertility levels and trends worldwide and their determinants, population projections and the methodology and data for reproductive health indicators. She has a PhD in Demography from Charles University in Prague.