Over 5.1 million babies were born in the European Union (EU) in 2016. according to Eurostat the statistical service of the EU. In eight of the 28 Member States, the majority of babies were born outside marriage, while in eight other member States two-thirds of babies were born to married parents.
With six in every ten babies born to unmarried parents, France had the largest proportion (59.7%) of live births outside marriage in the EU in 2016. France was closely followed by Bulgaria and Slovenia (both 58.6%). More than half of births also occurred outside marriage in Estonia (56.1%), Sweden (54.9%), Denmark (54.0%), Portugal (52.8%) and the Netherlands (50.4%).
In contrast, fewer than 1 in 10 babies were born to unmarried parents in Greece (9.4%). Births outside marriage also accounted for a quarter or fewer of all babies born in Croatia (18.9%), Cyprus (19.1%) and Poland (25.0%), and for under a third of babies born in Lithuania (27.4%), Italy (28.0%), Romania (31.3%) and Malta (31.8%).
Compared with the situation in 2000, the proportion of live births outside marriage rose in all Member States, albeit to different extents.
On the one hand, the proportion of babies born out of wedlock has grown significantly in Mediterranean Member States. It has increased eightfold in Cyprus (from 2.3% in 2000 to 19.1% in 2016). It has tripled in Malta (from 10.6% to 31.8%) and Italy (from 9.7% to 28.0%), while it is now about 2.5 times higher in Spain (from 17.7% to 45.9%), Greece (from 4.0% to 9.4%) and in another southern Member State: Portugal (from 22.2% to 52.8%).
On the other hand, the proportion of live births outside marriage remained relatively stable between 2000 and 2016 in northern Europe, notably in the Nordic Member States (Sweden, Finland and Denmark), in Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as in the Baltic Member States (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania).