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The crisis levels church and civil marriages

01 October 2014 / 15:10:25  GRReporter
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For Greeks civil marriage is now a common choice, half of the newly married preferring the ritual of town hall to that of church. The trend emerged in 2012, when for the first time in the country civil marriages exceeded the number of those carried out in church, then the trend was consolidated in 2013 with full "equality" between priests and mayors. Last year 25,632 civil marriages and 25,624 church marriages were recorded, while in 2012 there were 1,750 civil marriages more. The number of young couples who prefer town hall for financial or other reasons is increasing.

Impressive growth (85%) was observed in contracts for domestic cohabitation, although in absolute numbers it is not the most popular option for young couples. While in 2012, 314 such contracts were signed, in 2013 their number reached 581. Since 2009 (the year in which they were implemented) up until 2013 a total of 1,421 cohabitation contracts have been signed, the trend being upward. "Many couples prefer cohabitation contracts for financial reasons, or because of an arisen pregnancy because they do not want their child to be born without a marriage having taken place first", explained the President of the College of Notaries in Greece, Konstantinos Vlahakis. He adds that a large part (20-25%) of those who sign contracts for cohabitation have stated their parents' home as their home as well. Meanwhile, Greek lawyers think of the Greek cohabitation contract as one of the weakest in Europe as cohabiting life partners do not have the same rights as spouses, besides, homosexual couples are excluded.

Negative growth

Simultaneously, the data of the Greek Statistical Office show that the natural growth of the Greek population (the ratio between the number of births and deaths) has been negative for the last three years. Last year, there were 17,660 more deaths than births, which is the largest negative difference recorded after the wars. For the period 2011- 2013, 38,628 more people died than were born and births have been decreasing steadily since 2008.

According to the Professor of Demography at the University of Thessaly, Vyronas Kodzamanis, this negative growth is mainly due to two factors: in the period 1999-2009 there was growth of the birth rate due to a change in the calendar of birth (i.e., the average age at which women give birth increased). It was reasonably expected that at some point this growth would be interrupted. Perhaps the economic crisis has contributed as well to the expected births reduction.

It should be noted that the average age at which women give birth was 31.05 years in 2009, while in 2013 it reached 31.85 years. On the other hand, according to professor Kodzamanis, the increase in deaths is due to aging of the population, as the crisis has its influence here as well, but not significantly.

"We have entered a period of negative population growth, which will continue in the future. Thus, if the expected negative population growth is not balanced with export-import of foreigners, something that is extremely unlikely to happen, the population of Greece will decrease slowly but steadily over the next decades", emphasizes professor Kodzamanis. The fact that last year the fertility index in Greece was 8.6 and the mortality index was 10.2 is indicative, while in neighbouring Turkey these indices were 16.9 and 4.9 respectively. Apart from Turkey, population growth was also recorded in Albania, Macedonia and Spain, while the situation in Bulgaria, Italy and Portugal is similar to that in Greece.

More details

  • The population growth is positive only on the islands in the south Aegean and Crete. In the regions with negative growth the record belongs to the region of Central Macedonia, followed by the Peloponnese, Attica, Thessaly, Eastern Macedonia – Thrace, etc.
  • In 2013 the index of infant mortality increased to 3.69 from 2.91 in 2012.
  • Most contracts for cohabitation on family grounds were signed in the period 2009-2013 in Attica.
Tags: civil marriage church marriage natural growth index of fertility mortality
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