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International News Archive
June 07 - June 13, 2001


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This page contains news for the period June 07 through June 13, 2001.



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Wednesday, June 13, 2001

United Kingdom has the highest divorce rate in the European league

A story published today by the Independent reports that Britain topped the ranking of highest divorce rate in the European Union and holds one of the highest rates of babies born outside marriage, a survey revealed yesterday.

The UK, with Finland, came joint first in a divorce league table, with 2.8 divorces per 1,000 people per year. This compared with an average of 1.8 divorces per 1,000 people across the EU and a rate of just 0.6 in Luxembourg.

But while other European nations saw an increase in the number of divorces during the 1990s, Britain experienced a decline. The number of British couples divorcing fell from 165,000 in 1993 to 144,600 in 1999, but the slight drop in the divorce rate coincided with a fall in the number of couples getting married.

The figures compiled by the EU's statistical office, Eurostat, also showed that more British babies are born to unmarried couples than in most of the rest of Europe.

In Britain, 39 percent of births are outside of marriage compared with an EU average of 26 percent.  Little more than a decade ago, just 27 per cent of babies in Britain were born outside wedlock, but this figure grew steadily throughout the 1990s with the increase in couples who cohabit.

Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the National Family Parenting Institute, said: "The divorce rate in the UK has actually been falling since 1996 but so has the number of marriages. The general trend across the European Union is for fewer marriages and more divorces. People are also getting married and having their first child later. However, marriage is still extremely popular in the EU: more than 90 percent of couples are married."

European survey reveals increase in out-of-wedlock births and divorces

A story published today by the Mirror reports that the number of babies born outside marriage in Ireland has more than doubled in the last decade, a study revealed yesterday.

One in three Irish mothers are unmarried compared to just over one in 10 in 1998. 

The study also showed that one in four children are born outside of marriage in the European Union nations.

In Sweden over half the children have unmarried parents while Greece only has four percent of births out of wedlock.

The study, compiled by the EU's Eurostat statistical office, also shows that the Irish government is at the bottom of the table for health spending.

The 500-page survey revealed that total health spending by governments in the EU is less than half that in America.

The study also revealed that the number of marriages is falling throughout the European continent.

The countries with the highest marriage rates in 1999 were Portugal and Denmark while the lowest were Sweden and Belgium. 

There were on average 5.2 marriages per 1,000 people in 1989 - 10 years later it had dropped to 4.9 per 1,000.

While less people are walking down the aisle and taking the vows of marriage, more people are getting divorced.

There is currently an average of 1.8 divorces for every 1,000 people.

Britain, Switzerland and Finland have the highest rates in Europe, while the Mediterranean countries of Greece and Spain had the lowest rates of divorces.

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Paternity leave for French fathers proposed 

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Monday proposed a measure that would enable new fathers in France to take a two-week paid paternity leave.

``Fathers, along with mothers, must fully experience the special occasion of birth, so they can welcome the child in the best conditions,'' Jospin said at the opening of a conference on family issues.

France's current labor code provides for a three-day leave for fathers while mothers are allowed a 16-week paid leave for their first two children and 26 weeks for the succeeding births that follow.

Family Affairs Minister Segolene Royal, who has pushed for the measure, said the program would cost the government about $95 million, assuming 40 percent of new fathers took the optional leave. About 40 percent of fathers in other European countries with similar laws take paternity leave.

The proposal will go before the parliament this fall and, if it passes as is considered likely, could take effect in January, Jospin said.

Jospin also announced that the state would set aside a $130 million for day care, and said the government would work on a law to simplify divorce procedures, though he did not provide details.


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