New statistics released in time for Valentine's Day show us which countries in the European Union had the highest marriage rates in 2017.
New statistics released in time for Valentine's Day have revealed which European Union countries have the highest marriage rates.
The Eurostat data shows that Lithuania had the most marriages per 1,000 people (7.5) in 2017, with Romania coming in a close second at 7.3.
The country with the least marriages was Slovenia, with 3.1 per 1,000 people, closely followed by several western European countries, such as Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
But marriage rates on the whole across the European Union are on the decline, having shrunk almost 50% in relative terms since 1965, while divorce rates have almost doubled.
Eurostat notes that the rising divorce rate could be attributed to a number of EU countries legalising divorce within the time period.
As for declining marriage rates, Eurostat said: "Marriage, as recognised by the law of each country, has long been considered to mark the formation of a family unit."
"However, the analysis of trends in family formation and dissolution based on just marriage and divorce data might not offer a full picture. Legal alternatives to marriage, like registered partnership, have become more widespread and national legislation has changed to confer more rights on unmarried couples."
Intra-marital vs extra-marital births
Looking deeper into the changing attitudes towards a traditional family unit, Eurostat also looked into the number of extra-marital live births.
In 2016, such births outnumbered the figure of intra-marital births in some EU member states.
These figures were noted in countries such as France and Slovenia, where, in 2017, the lowest marriage rates in comparison to the rest of the EU were reported.
Lithuania, which topped the 2017 chart for marriage rates, was also at the high end of the chart for countries recording an intramarital birth majority.