How have weddings in Greece changed over the years ? - My Datafication

06 November, 2016

How have weddings in Greece changed over the years ?


Having recently attended the wedding of two friends of mine, a new question arose. "How have weddings in Greece changed over the years?". Marriage is the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a relationship and wedding is the ceremony that unites the couple in marriage. In Greece, most weddings are performed in churches, while the law allows also civil ones. However, 20 years earlier the wedding landscape was quite different, but the question is "how different"?

How can data help us understand the changes over time? The only available dataset I found about weddings in Greece, comes from the Hellenic Statistical Authority. In particular, there are data for weddings from 1980 to 2014 [1]. The available data are aggregated per year and thus it is not possible to analyze the events. However, using descriptive statistics we may get an overview of the weddings' evolution through time. As mentioned above, the available data we used regard the time period from 1980 to 2014, hence covering a period of 34 years.

Starting the analysis, we examine how the % of weddings in the population has changes across time. Since total population has been increasing over time, looking for the absolute number of weddings does not answer if the they have increased or decreased. However, if we compare the % of weddings per e.g. 1.000 citizens we may conclude about the trend they follow. As shown in figure 2, the percentage of weddings tends to decrease over the years. If we look closely, we observe an interesting pattern. Every four years there is a high decrease in weddings , e.g. in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 etc. However, after 2004 the drop is reduced. But, what is so special about this years that deters people from getting married? They are all leap years, and getting married in such years is regarded as a jinx!
Figure 2. Weddings % per 1.000 citizens in Greece. Created by author using Excel 

Next, using data about the age of the groom per wedding, we may examine when men decide to get married. Hellenic Statistical Authority provides aggregate data per year (1980 - 2014) and per men's age group. Using these data, we have created the figure 2, where we observe the percentage of weddings whose groom belonged to the corresponding age group, classified per year. As it is seen in the diagram, red color represents the percentage of grooms withing the age group 15-19, the green color 20-24 etc. Scanning through the years we observe that less and less men decide to get married at the ages of 15-19 (in 2014 this was less than 1%). Similarly, less and less men get married at the age groups 20-24 and 25-29. On the other hand, there is an increase in weddings when the age is 30-34 and 35-39 years old. All these observations may lead us to the conclusion that nowadays men prefer to get married later than sooner. A smaller increase is observed in weddings when the groom is 40-44 and 45-49, which means that even if men proceed with a wedding later, they want to do it before they reach their forties. Last but not least, we observe that marriages in old ages (over 50 years old) are stable over the years, which may happen because of second marriages (after a divorce or widowhood).
Figure 3. Weddings per groom's age group (in %). Created by author using Excel 

Similarly, we may observe how brides' wedding age groups have changed over the years. We see that from the 90's, there have been no girls getting married under the age of 15 (at least not any reported cases). Again, we see the trend of young people not getting married, as the percentages of age groups 15-19 and 20-24 are getting smaller and smaller. In 2014 less than 15% of the total number of weddings regarded a wife younger than 24 years old. On the other hand, the most popular age group to get married seems to be the 25-29, whose percentages only increase across the years. The same trend follows also the age group 30-34, which indicates that most women nowadays pursue a marriage after they turn 25 but also before their mid-thirties. Lastly, an increase in weddings is also observed for older women (from 35 and older), who may want to pursue their career first and then do their wedding. This phenomenon was very rare in the 80's with less than 10% of weddings including women in such ages. However, in 2014 more than 20% of women, who got married, were over 35 years old.
Figure 4. Marriages per bride's age group (in %). Created by author using Excel
Another interesting aspect of weddings regards the rise of civil weddings across the years. Figure 5 shows the trend from 1991 until 2014 (unfortunately, there are no data available for the 80's years). As we may observe, in the early 90's more than 90% of weddings were religious (blue line), but this number drops significantly after the millennium. In the most recent years, e.g. 2012 and later, the percentages of the religious and the civil weddings are almost equal (50%-50%), with the civil ones outnumbering the others for a small fraction. This may be due to the fact that people depart from the religion, as well as for economic reasons. Civil weddings have no additional cost for the marrying couple, while a wedding in church comes with the decoration costs, the church payment etc.
Figure 5. Religious vs. Civil weddings over the years (in %). Created by author using Excel
All in all, four simple diagrams based on aggregate data can easily visualize the Greek wedding landscape. Some interesting conclusions we have been led are:
  • The number of weddings tends to drop over the years, with a more significant drop in leap years.
  • Men prefer to get married after they turn their 30's but also before their 40's.
  • On the other hand, women, look for marriage after the age of 25, but also before their mid-thirties.
  • Civil weddings slightly outnumber religious ones after 2012. The major increase in civil weddings is observed after the millennium.

That all about weddings for now! Future research could examine if there are statistically significant differences in weddings across different geographical areas or in cities versus rural areas. Another post will be created about divorces, just to observe how these marriages evolve. Stay tuned! :)

If you liked the post, read also "What is Datafication" to learn about the origin of the term and what inspired me to use it for my blog! Don't forget to like "My Datafication" on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the latest posts! Last but not least, use the discussion below to share your ideas or opinion about the post! 

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