The number of marriages fell in Spain in the first year of the pandemic by 46% compared to 2019. This decline was significantly higher than that recorded in other European countries such as Germany (-10%), the Netherlands (-21%), Sweden (- 22%) or France (-34%), but similar to what was verified in other southern Europe such as Italy (-47%) or Portugal (-43%). The steepest drop was recorded in Ireland at 53%.

These data come from the latest Focus on Spanish Society, a publication edited by Funcas, which collects data from the INE and Eurostat. In Spain, the number of different-sex marriages plummeted from the maximum of 271,347 registered in 1975 to the minimum of 87,481 in 2020, which represents a drop of more than 300% in less than 50 years.

In fact, leaving aside 2020, a year marked by the restrictions of the health crisis, during the five-year period between the end of the crisis and the beginning of the pandemic (2015-2019), the average annual number of marriages (166,000) increased it was below the annual average of the five-year period prior to the economic-financial crisis (2003-2007) in which 208,000 were registered.

In general, according to Funcas’ analysis, new marriages show an evolution highly dependent on the economic cycle -they fall in recessive periods and increase in expansive periods-, but above these oscillations, the solidity of the downward trend stands out.

Focus on Spanish Society also notes the drop in the proportion of first marriages (over the total number of marriages celebrated). In Spain, for example, until the year 2000 first marriages represented between 95% and 99% of all; in the first decades of this century, the percentage has been reduced to around 80%. In other European countries with a Catholic tradition, such as Italy, Portugal and Ireland, similar declines in first marriages are observed. In short, in all these countries, today much fewer single people get married, but much more people who were already married do.

This general downward trend in marriage is due to various reasons, among which it should be noted -in addition to the generalized incorporation of women into the labor market-, the reduction of institutional incentives for marriage, such as its elimination as an essential condition to access certain benefits and social services.

In the case of Spain, the loss of importance of marriage is limited to heterosexual couples. Same-sex weddings also fell in 2020 (36% for women and 40% for men), but less than those between people of the same sex. Same-sex marriages were, however, just under 4% of all those registered that year.

Regarding migration, according to the data from the Migration Statistics, collected in Focus on Spanish Society, the inflows of foreigners to Spain fell sharply in the first three semesters of the pandemic, but in none of them the inflows were less than those registered between 2012 and 2016.

A similar conclusion is drawn from the analysis of emigration data. In the first half of 2021, the departures of foreigners from Spain increased. But although these multiplied by 1.4 compared to the second half of 2019, they were well below those observed during the central years of the economic-financial crisis (between the second half of 2009 and 2013).

In 2020, the population born abroad increased in all European countries, but in Spain it did so in a greater proportion than in other countries (3%), the same rate as in 2017 and lower than in 2018 [5%) and 2019 [7%). At the end of that first year of the pandemic, the population residing in Spain born abroad accounted for 15.2% of the total population, a percentage higher than that of France (12.8%) and Italy (10.6%), but lower than Ireland (17.6%), Germany (18.2%) and Sweden (19.7%).

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