More Netherlands couples celebrating gold, diamond anniversaries

The number of marriages that last 50 or 60 years in the Netherlands is increasing. More couples celebrated their gold and diamond anniversaries last year, thanks to the high number of marriages in the 60s and 70s combined with the increasing life expectancy, Statistics Netherlands reported on Wednesday.

The number of ruby or emerald (40 years), silver (25 years) and copper (12.5 years) wedding anniversaries, on the other hand, are decreasing. According to the stats office, this has to do with fewer marriages and more divorces after the 1970s.

A relatively large number of marriages were concluded in the 1960s and 1970s, with a peak of 124 thousand in 1970. This resulted in 52,900 couples celebrating their gold anniversary and 13,100 couples celebrating their diamond anniversary last year. But in the more recent decades, the number of marriages has been declining, which means that fewer silver and copper wedding anniversaries being celebrated. In the past five years, about 65 thousand couples got married per year - almost half as many as in 1970.

Of the couples who got married in 1951, 28 percent were still intact 50 years later in 2001. Of the couples who got married in 1969, 45 percent were still together this year. According to the stats office, this is mainly because people are living longer and longer. Moreover, the life expectancy of men, who are generally a bit older than their wives and die a little earlier, has risen faster than that of women since 1990. This increases the chance of both spouses still being alive after 50 or 60 years of marriage.

The percentage of marriages that are still intact for their ruby or emerald anniversary remained relatively stable at between 55 and 60 percent over the past two decades. But the percentage of couples who make it to their silver anniversary has fallen. Statistics Netherlands mainly attributes this to an increase in divorces, which increased sharpy since the early 1970s. In 1971 the divorce rate was 12 percent. That increased to 26 percent in 1981 and almost 40 percent last year. 

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