Marriages in Spain: women marry less than men after divorce or widowhood ·

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Talk to official sources

scientific literature

Official sources (communiques, databases, BOE)

Britney Spears, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez or Sonia Ferrer are some of the celebrities who got married in 2022 and who had at least one marriage before that. In Spain, the number of people celebrating their second marriage (or third, or fourth, etc.) has increased over the years: from 22,706 in 1996 (the first year for which data are available) to 63,190 (almost triple) in 2019, the last year before the pandemic, according to Marriage statistics from the National Statistical Institute (INE).

In 2020, the figure dropped to 41,478, but also there were fewer weddings overall coinciding with the first year of the pandemic. In fact, while the total number of weddings decreased by 24% between 1996 and 2021the number of people remarrying continues to grow: in 2019 there were 178% more weddings of divorced or widowed people than in 1996. INE includes in its analysis only people who are getting married and have already been married in opposite-sex marriages because number of people remarrying same-sex ‘is very small’as indicated by the institute itself.

Women who were previously married return to the altar less often than men in the same situation. But from 1996 to 2020, the gap narrowed significantly. Especially among divorcees: although in 1996 there were 23.68% fewer divorced women who remarried than men, in 2020 the difference is only 4.57%.

Those who continue to marry far less than men are widowed: in 2020 there were 62.99% more widowed men than widowed women remarried.

Marriages in which both spouses are between the ages of 40 and 49 are the most likely to divorce

The age group in which more people are getting divorced is the one that includes 40 and 49 years. In fact, they are more common when both men and women are in this age group. In same-sex marriages, since the number of divorces is much lower, INE divides them in a different way, into larger groups. In this case, the age group with the most divorces is between 25 and 44.

It should be borne in mind that the age group between 40 and 49 years is also the second in which there are more married people in Spain: 4.65 million. The first is that of people between the ages of 50 and 59: 4.92 million married, according to the INE Active Population Survey.

Also, divorce is more common among couples who have been married for at least 20 years. Of the 838,469 between 2013 and 2021, almost a third (266,429) were from people who had been married for 20 years or more. The second leg in which there are more divorces between five and nine years of marriage.

Married couples without children are proportionately the most likely to divorce

In Spain, there are more divorces of people who have children. But there are also more couples who have children: in 2020 (the latest year for which data are available) in Spain there were, according to INE, 5,925,700 couples with cohabiting children and 3,554,600 couples without children. However, the most divorced couples, proportionally, are those without dependent children.

From 86,851 divorces that occurred in 2021, more than half (49,569) are married couples with minor children or dependents. However, this does not mean that people with children are getting divorced more. In fact, the divorce rate is 9.11 per thousand marriages without children and 7.56 per thousand marriages with children.

Something similar happens with marriages according to the gender of their components. In 2021, there were 85,179 divorces of heterosexual couples, 900 divorces of marriages between two men, and 772 divorces of marriages between two women. But proportionally most marriages that end in divorce are those concluded by two women: 29.31 per thousand. In fact, divorces between two women were the only ones to increase in 2020 compared to 2019.

Divorced women are the ones who most believe that it is negative for the couple that they earn more than them

According to a 2020 studyAll You Single Ladies: Job Promotions and Marriage Durability”, published in the Economic Journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economicsand in heterosexual marriages The trend towards divorce is influenced by women’s access to higher positions of responsibility in the world of work.

According to their results, among candidates for public office (such as congressmen or mayors), “a promotion to one of these positions doubles the likelihood of reference divorce for women, but not for men.” The article also found a “widening of the gender gap in divorce rates for men and women following a promotion to CEO.” The report uses data from Sweden and in Spain there is no public data that would allow us to check if the same is happening in our country.

What can be verified is that according to the microdata of INE Fertility Survey 2018that at least on the question 81.9% of women and 74.8% of men disagree with the statement “if the woman earns more money than her partner, it is not good for the relationship”.

Of course, among women, the ones who most agree with this statement are the divorced. They are also the ones who answer in greater numbers that they “neither agree nor disagree”.

INE it also allows you to see the profession of people of the opposite sex marrying each other. And for example, women who are directors of companies and public administrations marry primarily professional scientific and intellectual technicians and auxiliary technicians and professionals. On the other hand, male directors marry more technical and scientific and intellectual specialists and administrative employees.

Total, Of the 87,481 opposite-sex weddings that took place in 2020, INE provides data on the spouses’ occupation in 44,777 of them (in the rest, at least the profession of one of the two components of the marriage does not appear). From them, 75.57% is between people doing different things and 24.43% of people with the same type of occupation. One in four weddings are of people who are dedicated to the same thing: the group where this happens the most is that of scientific and intellectual professional technicians, 39.61% marry someone from their own union.

Divorces and weddings have declined over the past five years

Between 1999 and 2006, one year after the approval of reform of the Civil Code that made divorce easierthe annual number of divorces is increasing year by year. In recent years, however, we have observed the opposite phenomenon: the number of divorces per year also decreased from 2017 to 2020the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year in which the lowest number of reform approvals was recorded: 77,200. in 2021 their number increased to 86,851, but still below the number of divorces in 2019.

Like divorces, the number of weddings has also declined in recent years: from 2016 to 2020 there are fewer and fewer couples getting married. Yes really, only between people of the opposite sex. The Same-sex weddings increased from 2013 to 2019. In 2020, the year when there were more restrictions due to the coronavirus (for several months only 150 guests could attend outdoors and 75 indoors), they fell, but in 2021 they went back up. Actually there was more weddings between two women than in any other year since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005.


For the implementation of this information damn it analyzed data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) corresponding to divorces in its statistics on annulments, separations and divorces, both the historical series and the latest provisional data corresponding to 2021. For data not updated until 2021, we have used the latest available as of 2020.

To calculate the divorce rate, ie. people who get divorced based on, for example, their sexual orientation or if they have children, we divided the number of divorces by the total number of marriages of this type for which data are available in the Continuing Household Survey (also from INE) and we multiplied them by the thousand. In this way, we were able to analyze how many divorces there are, for example, for every thousand marriages with children or for every thousand marriages between two women.

Additionally, to examine women’s views on whether it is bad for the relationship for them to earn more than their partners, we extracted the questionnaire and microdata from the 2018 Fertility Survey. After extracting these microdata, we treated them as a group of men’s results and women separately and we have grouped them according to their marital status. For this, we used the statistical software R.

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