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Number of EU children born out of wedlock doubles

September 9, 2010

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BRUSSELS—The European Union says the number of children born out of wedlock in the 27-nation bloc has doubled over the past two decades and now accounts for over one-third of the region's births.

Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, said Thursday that 35.1 percent of births in 2008 occurred outside of marriage, up from 17.4 percent in 1990 and 25.1 percent in 1998.

Estonia holds the highest out-of-wedlock birth rate at 59 percent, and every EU nation except Denmark -- whose rate remained flat at 46 percent -- has experienced an increase.

Eurostat also said EU marriage rates have decreased from 6.3 marriages per 1,000 people in 1990 to 4.9 marriages per 1,000 in 2008. The only EU nations to see an increase in marriages were Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Finland and Sweden.

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