• 94% more domestic registered partnerships in the Netherlands
  • Fewer marriages and divorces since the outbreak of the coronavirus
  • More divorces between people of the same sex

AMSTERDAM, January 22, 2022 – The number of registered partnerships in the Netherlands increased explosively during 2021. Compared to the average of the previous decade, this number has almost doubled, according to the data company Nucleoo’s calculations based on various sources. The growth took a huge spurt from May onwards, after the end of the lockdown. But it is not only these figures that are growing; the number of relationship endings is also much higher.

In fact, more terminations of registered partnerships than ever took place after the outbreak of corona. In no year was the growth of this figure higher than in 2021, after the percentage also increased in 2020. “The biggest spike is observed after the first easing in July 2020. In that month, the number increased by 19% compared to July 2019,” said Pieter Aarts, director at Nucleoo. The same period also saw a spike in divorces. 

Trapped in marriage?

Nevertheless, the number of stranded marriages actually decreased in 2021. In 2020, that number fell below 30,000 for the first time in a decade. In 2021, a new record low seems to have been reached. “Although the corona pandemic is a big test for marriage, it obviously also brings with it a lot of uncertainty about the future. Couples may wait to make a rigorous decision like divorce despite the impasse. Moreover, we are currently dealing with a pretty overheated housing market. Perhaps quite a few people are trapped in the marriage,” explains Aarts. 

The reason for the increasing numbers of registered partnerships ending may have something to do with the differences with marriages. It usually causes a little less hassle. For example, if there are no minor children involved, this form of cohabitation can be terminated outside of court.

More sealings and fewer breakups in 2021

In 2020, a total of more than ten thousand fewer marriages and partnership closures took place than in 2019. This represents a decrease of 13%. In terms of relationship terminations, there was an overall increase of 6%, compared to 2019. Although the data for December is not yet available, 2021 appears to have been a slightly better year. Aarts: “At the moment, it looks like there have been more sealings and fewer breakups in love compared to 2020.”

Trend change in the number of marriages

For years, the popularity of the registered partnership has been accompanied by a decline in the number of marriages in the Netherlands. However, 2021 was an exception to that rule. More couples stepped into the marriage boat than in 2020. In 2020, 50,233 marriages took place, while this year up to and including November, 52,848 marriages had already been registered.

Aarts: “A lot of marriages were postponed in 2020, of course, because of Corona, which explains the small increase in 2021. Nonetheless, the figures show that getting married has long since ceased to be a matter of course.” In 2021, despite the slight increase, the number was still 16% lower than the average over the past decade, whereas in 2020 it was even 25% lower.

Same-sex marriage has similarities and differences

For same-sex marriages and registered partnerships, the trend is the same as for same-sex unions. The number of same-sex partnerships grew in 2020 and 2021, by sixty and 80%, respectively, compared to the average of the previous decade. In terms of the number of marriages, less changed after the entry of corona.

The major difference is that same-sex marriages actually have more divorces than before 2020. In 2021, that rate was 30% higher for the time being, while in 2020 it was even almost 40% higher. In contrast, in same-sex marriages, there is a declining rate with respect to the severance of registered partnerships.