Marriages and divorces
Updated: 8 March 2021
Next update: 6 April 2022
About the statistics
Detailed figures for divorces, separations, marriages and partnerships. For couples of the same sex, events are included when the oldest partners or spouses were settled in Norway at the time of the incident, for couples with different sex when the husband was in Norway at this time.
Events in a period divided by relevant mean population. The period is usually one year. Annual averages are published for five-year periods. Example: The age-specific divorce rate for women in a period is the annual number of divorced women in an age group in the period per 1 000 of the mean population of married and separated women in the same age group.
Average population at the beginning and end of the year.
A group of persons that has experienced the same (demographic) events the same calendar year (or period), such as birth or marriage. The birth cohort of 1970 is those who were born in 1970. The marriage cohort of 1985 is the marriages contracted in 1985.
Who is regarded as a resident of Norway and where in Norway a person shall be counted as a resident, is stipulated in the Population Registration Act of 16 January 1970. The regulations to the act were last amended effective 1 October 1998.
Information on the number of children was taken from the notification of divorce/separation up until and including 2005. In 2006, the Central Population Register stopped transferring the number of children from these notifications. Instead, the statistics published as of 2006 the number of children is calculated using information on parents/children relations back to 2001. A comparison of the two time series indicates that the number of children has been somewhat under-reported in the notifications of divorce/separations.
After the Act relating to registered partnership came into force on 1 August 1993, the following marital status types apply: Unmarried (not previously married), married, widow/widower, divorced, separated, registered partner, separated partner, divorced partner and surviving partner. The latter four codes were adopted on 1 January 1994.
Division for Population Statistics
The country, counties and municipalites.
Data files at the individual level that are processed and stored long-term.
The statistics shall, together with the other subject areas in population statistics, help show the changes that take place, changes that also have an effect on the composition of the population.
Marriages contracted: Total figures for the country exist dating back to 1770, with the exception of 1784-1794.
Statistics are available for registered partnerships starting 1993: The Registered Partnerships for Homosexual Couples Act that became law on 1 August 1993 stipulated that two persons of the same sex may have their union registered.
Statistics for marriages between two persons of the same sex are availible from 2009. The Marriages Act was changed 1 January 2009. The mainly changes were:
- Two persons of the same sex can be married
- A registered partnership can be changed to a marriage
- Registered partnership can not be contracted after 31 December 2008
Divorce statistics date back to 1871. The figures for 1871-1885 do not include divorces granted by court decree, only divorces granted by licence.
Statistics on separations also date back to 1871. Numbers are missing. There are no statistics for the years 1931-1946.
The statistics have a wide spectrum of users and applications, including institutes involved in researching demographics and living conditions, public administration, the mass media and private persons.
No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.
Statistics Act § 10
The statistical material covers divorces, separations, contracted marriages and registered partnerships (until 2008) in which at least one of the parties was a resident of Norway at the time of the event. From 1999 onwards, national main figures are calculated for divorces, separations, marriages and registered partnerships in which the man/elder partner/elder spouce was a resident of Norway at the time of the event. Prior to 1986, the main figures for marriages/partnerships were published as today, according to the definition that the man should be resident in Norway at the time of the event. In the period 1986-1998, these figures covered events in which at least one of the parties was a resident. The published main figures for divorces and separations included events in which the man was a resident of Norway also prior to 1999, but also included some divorces and separations in which the man was living abroad or the place of resident was unknown.
Contracted marriages between two persons of the same sex are counted as contracted marriages between two persons of different sex if the personal number is not fully given.
Delayed population registration reports have been handled differently over the years. A delayed report (on marriage or registered partnership) is defined as a report that has not been sent to the population registry in time to be included in the statistics for the relevant calendar year. The processing of the delayed reports affects whether and how the events are included in the statistics at a later time.
The statistics from 2002 onwards mainly cover events that took place in the relevant statistical year (calendar year), events reported too late to be included in the previous year's statistics or previous years regardless of when the event took place. The deadline for receipt of reports is the end of January.
The statistics for 1999-2001 inclusive include the same events, but permits two-month delays, not one month, which was introduced later.
Before 1990, delayed reports (received later than the end of March in the following year) were not included in the statistics. The deadline for the receipt of reports was three months.
The statistics are based on population register data.
In 1946, local population registries were introduced in each municipality. The local population registry registered all residents in the municipality pursuant to the Population Registration Act and its regulations. In 2005, the work methods of the population registries were changed, and there are now 97 registries with responsibility for population registrations for several municipalities in each county. The population registries receive reports of births, deaths, marriages, divorces, migration etc. from various sources. Marriage reports are forwarded by the minister or official performing the ceremony to the local population registry. Reports of marriages abroad of persons living in Norway are also included. Reports of registered partnerships are forwarded from the district court judge to the local population registry.
Statistics on births, deaths and marriages have been prepared on the basis of records submitted by public servants since 1735.
The National Population Register (DSP) was developed from 1964 to 1966 on the basis of the 1960 population census. At the same time, the 11-digit national identity number was introduced as identification. The register includes persons who were registered in the census and everyone who has lived in Norway since 1 October 1964. In 1995, the Central Population Register (DSF) in the Directorate of Taxes took over as the official register. The Office of the National Registrar, which administrates the DSF (and formerly the DSP), was transferred from Statistics Norway to the Directorate of Taxes in 1991.
Updates of the Central Population Register are conducted partly by the local population registries, which are connected to the DSF via terminals, and partly by the Directorate of Taxes. The basis of the statistics on changes in the population is electronic copies sent to Statistics Norway of all register updates. The reports are also used to update a separate Statistics Norway population database kept for statistical purposes, which forms the basis for the population statistics.
In addition to the controls done by the DSF, Statistics Norway performs checks for statistical purposes. More detailed information about the controls that are done is given in the latest published documentation: Dokumentasjon av BESYS-befolkningsstatistikksystemet. Befolkningsendringer i 1998 og befolkningsbasen (BEBAS) 1. januar 2000, Notater 2000/24 (in Norwegian only).
The statistics are estimated by counting the number of marriages, partnerships, separations and divorces.
If a table consists zero, one or two units and disclosing these units can lead to identification of individuals, the figure is rounded up or left empty.
Time: From 1961 age is given as age at the time of the event, previously as age at the end of the year.
Starting with the 1999 divorce statistics all delayed reports are also included, regardless of which year the event actually took place. In the period 1990-1998 delayed reports from the year before were included, while before 1990 all delayed reports were excluded from the statistics. The number of delayed reports varies but is generally modest, so that the statistics for a calendar year apply for the most part to events taking place that year.
Errors may occur, for instance coding errors, revision errors, data processing errors etc. Routines are in place to minimise such errors and Statistics Norway considers these to be of minor importance.