NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 27, 2004

Marriage is becoming increasingly uncommon in Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark, say observers.

Unlike America, marriage is widely seen as an inconvenience across Scandinavia, providing very few benefits -- social or economic -- and imposing too large a commitment on families.

Observers say advances in birth control, the rise of feminism, and the decline of religion have all contributed to the increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births:

  • In Norway, half of all children are now born to unmarried mothers.
  • In Sweden, about 56 percent of all children are illegitimate.
  • In Denmark, nearly 45 percent of all children are born out-of-wedlock.
  • The rate in the United States is a comparatively low 35 percent.

In addition, observers note, Scandinavian governments choose to subsidize this lifestyle, introducing numerous laws to help families who are not married. For example, about two-thirds of single mothers in Sweden receive housing allowances and many others receive "maintenance allowances" to support their children.

Source: Noelle Knox, "Nordic Family Ties Don't Mean Tying the Knot," USA Today, December 15, 2004.

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