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Why aren't young Europeans getting married?

2015-10-19

The most extensive investigation into the state of the family in Europe is a report called "Families and Societies.” It was presented in Rome recently, on the occasion of the Synod. A group of 25 universities in 15 countries surveyed the European family. Although the final result won't be ready until 2017, they've already shared quite a bit of data.

The Spanish professor Pablo Garcia Ruiz is a researcher with the project. In his presentation, he highlighted that 90 percent of Europeans consider the family to be the most important social institution. Eighty percent ask for their family's opinion before making important decisions or when they face difficult times.

PABLO GARCIA RUIZ
"Families and Societies” researcher
"We need and we value the support of the family. Today that support is at risk. It is problematic because the family needs help to deal with those challenges. Policies from the government, as well as the Church, can be put into practice to provide support for families and individuals.”

According to data from the professor, Europeans are encountering lots of difficulty with marriage. The study suggests that half as many marriages are taking place as were 25 years ago. One of the reasons is youth employment prospects: 20 percent are unemployed and 70 percent work on temporary contracts that cannot support a family.

PABLO GARCIA RUIZ
"Families and Societies” researcher
"Economic uncertainty, poor employment conditions, difficult or almost impossible to access housing, keeps people from moving out of their parents house for a long time. But it is not just those conditions: it's also fear, fear that they will fail, that they will not be able to realize whatever they really would like to do.”

Divorce rates in Europe have increased by 25 percent in the last two decades, according to the report. Still, marriage is valued in society: two thirds of couples who cohabitate see it as a step before marriage.

PABLO GARCIA RUIZ
"Families and Societies” researcher
"People want to have families. People fall in love. And people would like that love to last. What happens is that sometimes they are not able to deal in a reasonable manner with the problems that arise.”

The professor also said that with more affordable housing, 40 percent of Europeans would be more willing to have children. Other data shows that a quarter of parents don't want to have more children until they can find a better work and family balance. While another 25 percent can't have more children because they need to take care of the elderly at home.

PABLO GARCIA RUIZ
"Families and Societies” researcher
"We also have the challenge of our oldest people: an aging society will have to take care of parents and grandparents until they're much older.”

The first data from this study flashed a light on the same challenges that bishops at the Synod are studying. Young Europeans believe in marriage but they need more support to make that part of their life a reality.


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