The nuptiality depicts the frequency and the characteristics of marriage within a population. A transversal study provides a measure - a snapshot - of a given year (usually a calendar year), of all generations.

The transversal indicators used to calculate the nuptiality are:

The crude marriage rate is the ratio of marriages concluded in a given period, usually a calendar year, in relation to the average size of the population. This indicator is shown by the number of marriages per thousand inhabitants.

The first-time marriage indicators (total first marriage rate, average age) are only calculated for different-sex couples.

The short-term "first-time marriage" indicator is the sum of marriage rates of never previously married persons by age. First marriage rates are based on persons who have never previously married and with an upper age limit of 50. This upper age limit for first-time marriages was introduced due to its impact on fertility.

In the middle of the 20th century, it was expected that almost everyone would marry at least once in their lives; today slightly less than two-thirds of people marry.

This indicator gives an idea of the average age of men and women getting married during the calendar year. Between 1870 and 1940 the average age at marriage was 26.5 for women and 28.5 for men. Between 1940 and 1970 it fell by two years. This decrease in average age at first  marriage had a great impact on fertility trends during this period.  

Today, men and women are getting married later and later. Couples are now 5 years older at the time of their first marriage than in 1971. The age difference between single men and women getting married has remained relatively stable at national level since 1950; men are between 2.2 and 2.6 years older than women.

The longitudinal nuptiality study observes the "generations" that got married at least once before their 50th birthday. The term "generation" is used to describe all people born during the same calendar year. The longitudinal indicator is the proportion of married, divorced or widowed people by generation and sex.

Further information




Federal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuch√Ętel



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