EU Statistics Reveal Worrying Trend of Births Outside Marriage

|TOP|Across Europe the number of children being born to unmarried couples has increased by 600 percent over the past 35 years to almost 30 percent of all babies, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Europe, a traditionally Christian-majority continent, has seen the past few decades alter the image of the average European family completely, demographers and social analysts have said.

A majority of the governments across Europe seem to simply state that the changing trend is just a sign of the times, however, others are now offering a stark warning that European leaders have to pay attention to the worrying developments.

John Ermisch, an economics professor at the University of Essex has expressed his alarm at the trend. Ermisch said, “The rise in births outside marriage is a real cause for concern.”

|AD|Dr Peter Brierley of Christian Research – the organisation behind the UK Christian Handbook, and Religious Trends – has stated that if British unions break up more quickly and more often than marriages apply throughout the continent, then the increasing numbers of single-parent families in Europe will mean governments will have to rethink policy on a wide range of issues, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Particular concerns are the strains that will be placed on the large increase in families, childcare facilities, employment for single mothers, social and educational needs of children under single parents. In addition, many European countries are already strained by offering state welfare schemes, and the increase could destabilise the current systems put in place.

The countries in Europe are extremely diverse, however, and in particular the ways in which society, religion and economic traditions affect the number of births outside the conventional structure of marriage varies greatly across the countries.

The number of births outside marriage, as a percentage of the overall total of births, are as follows*:

Sweden - 56 percent
France - 48 percent
Britain - 42 percent
Germany - 28 percent
Greece - 4 percent

(*Statistics taken from the European Union’s official statistics office at Eurostat.)