Marriage is the union of a man and a woman as established in law. The fact of getting married changes the structure of the population (change in civil status) and has an influence on fertility in Switzerland, as most births are to married couples. A distinction is made between first and subsequent marriages:
- A first-time marriage is the union of a man and a woman who have both never previously married. To date, the majority of marriages represent this type of union.
- A subsequent marriage is any marriage where at least one of the spouses has previously been divorced or widowed.
The marriage rate depicts the frequency and the characteristics of marriage within a population. A cross-disciplinary study provides a measure - a snapshot - of a given year (usually a calendar year), of all generations.
The cross-disciplinary indicators used to calculate the marriage rate are:
The longitudinal marriage 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.