Documentation
Metadata
Data Licence Agreement  
 
ANNUAL NUMBER OF MARRIAGES
 
  Definition
 

The annual number of marriages is the number of marriages registered by the authorities of  a country or area during a year. According to the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 2, marriage is defined as "the act, ceremony or process by which the legal relationship of husband and wife is constituted. The legality of the union may be established by civil, religious or other means as recognized by the laws of each country". Unless otherwise specified, the reference period for the number of marriages presented in World Marriage Data 2008 is the calendar year.

 
   
  Method of computation
  The annual number of marriages is derived directly from reported data. No computation is necessary.  
   
  Statistical system generating the data
 

Data on the number of marriages are obtained from civil registration systems. For countries lacking a civil registration system or having a registration system whose coverage is too low, the data are not reported. In some countries, the annual number of marriages is estimated on the basis of data yielded by a sample registration system.

 
   
  Sources of the data presented
 

The annual number of marriages is obtained from reports made by National Statistical Offices to the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The data are also obtained from official publications produced by National Statistical Offices.

For each data point included in the data files, information on the type of statistical system generating the data (registration) and on the exact source of the data (usually denoted by an acronym) is provided. The meaning of each acronym used is presented in the worksheet labeled "Sources".

 
   
  Comments and limitations
  The main limitation of data generated by a civil registration system is that the data refer only to unions that are formalized through a legally acceptable procedure. Consensual and other forms of cohabiting unions are not recorded. In addition, in some systems not all the events recorded are subject to statistical processing so that the data reported are incomplete. Comparability of the data on marriages across countries may also be affected by differences in the populations for which marriages are reported,1 the type of events recorded2 and the time period used to tabulate data on marriages.3  In the data files, footnotes are used to indicate any known differences between the coverage of the data presented and the definition of the annual number of marriages as outlined above.  
   
 

Data coverage and reference years for the data reported

 

World Marriage Data 2008 contains data on the annual number of marriages for 182 countries or areas.  When available, data are provided for five reference dates: the closest years to 1970, 1985 and 1995, and the two most recent available years after 1999. For 134 countries or areas, data are available for all five reference dates.

 
   
 

1 While most countries or areas report data on the annual number of marriages for the de facto population (that is, the population present in a country or area at a certain time), some countries or areas report data on marriages among the de jure population (that is, the resident population, which excludes temporary visitors but includes residents temporarily absent). Differences can also arise when the marriage involves partners with different countries of residence or of citizenship.

2 Some countries or areas report data based on marriage licenses. A number of countries and areas include data on same-sex marriages. Although the legality of the union may be established by civil, religious or other means as recognized by the laws of each country, the data reported may not include all types of marriages.

3 While most countries and areas tabulate information on the number of marriages by date of occurrence, others present data tabulated by the date of registration. In some cases, there can be considerable time lags between the date of occurrence and the date of registration.

 
 

 

  Suggested citation:
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2009). World Marriage Data 2008 (POP/DB/Marr/Rev2008).