Foto: Rene Asmussen /

NIDI 50 • Changes in life courses • 2000

4 June 2021

Men and women born in the early twentieth century married late. The age at which half of the men married was around 28.5 years, and for women it was almost 27 years. Many men and women did not get married at all; about 20 per cent were still single at the age of 35.

This pattern of getting married late and the large proportion of unmarried people was also widespread in large parts of Europe in the early 2000s. Europeans have apparently tended to get married only when they could stand on their own two feet. A 2000 study by researchers from NIDI compared the differences in the life courses of Dutch people born between 1900 and 1970, which reveals a major shift: Due to the growing prosperity and the increase in social security, getting married [early] became more and more popular over time. Couples started cohabiting or marrying earlier and moreover around the same age, with the young age peaking among men and women born in the 1940s. Those born around 1970, by contrast, tended to leave home earlier, marry later and usually cohabited unmarried for at least a few years. Couples from this cohort have tended to postpone having children and have also been more prone to separating/ divorcing. This research thus revealed that the current trend is echoing the trend of 100 years ago, with couples focusing first on independence and only later on cohabitation.

Also view a corresponding VIDEO on flexible employment among younger workers  

In 2020 we celebrated our 50th anniversary as the national demographic institute of the Netherlands. Here we look back at 50 years of NIDI research and relate that to our current research. We present insights and landmarks from some of the studies that have been conducted in the past, combined with short videos of early career scholars at NIDI, presenting current research projects on similar topics.

Back to: NIDI 50 Years • Cross sections of population research

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