One in every three babies is born outside marriage, the highest rate in Malta in over a decade, according to EU statistics.

Eurostat reported that 31.8 per cent of all babies born in 2016 belonged to couples who were not married, up from 26.9 per cent in the previous year.

Just over a decade earlier, in 2005, births to unmarried couples amounted to 20 per cent of all babies born. Figures continued to rise steadily since, the Eurostat figures showed.

At EU level, the proportion of live births outside marriage stood at 43 per cent in 2016, just over 15 percentage points above that in 2000.

“From 2000, the share steadily increased by around one percentage point each year, signalling changing patterns of family formation, with births occurring in non-marital relationships, cohabiting couples and to lone parents,” Eurostat noted.

The share steadily increased by one percentage point a year, signalling changing patterns of family formation

In eight member states there were more live births registered outside marriage than within marriage, with France posting the highest rate (60 per cent), followed by Bulgaria and Slovenia (both 59 per cent).

The increase in babies born outside wedlock comes at a time when the number of marriages in Malta followed an upward trend, with data tabled in Parliament earlier this year showing that over 4,200 marriages and civil unions were registered in 2016.

An increase in the overall number of babies born every year has also been noted, with more than 7,000 births registered annually over the past few years.


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