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Like most other advanced countries in the postwar era, Germany recorded fewer marriages, more divorces, and smaller families.In 1960 there were 690,000 marriages, compared with 516,000 in 1990.In the early 1990s, only foreign families were regularly having two or more children, with the Turkish subgroup being the largest in terms of family size.
Just as the dramatic social changes brought to the new Länder by unification affected birth rates there, so they also affected marriages rates.
Another difference in marriage practices between the two Germanys had been that easterners marrying for the first time did so at an earlier age than westerners.
In 1993, however, this number rose to 18,000, an increase of 78 percent.
Despite the increasing likelihood of divorce, in 1990 about 89 percent of all families consisted of married couples, and about 70 percent of those of marriage age were married.
In the west, many mothers gave up their careers or interrupted them for long periods following the birth of a child because child care was generally unavailable.
As a result, in 1990 women of child-bearing age in the east had more children (1.67) than women in the west (1.42).The total for 1993 amounted to only 442,000, but most of this decline was caused by a drop of than more 50 percent in the number of marriages in the new Länder between 19.Until 1990 the decline in marriages in East Germany had been appreciably greater than in West Germany (from 215,000 in 1950 to 137,000 in 1989, compared with 536,000 and 399,000 in the same years in West Germany), but not nearly as steep in the 1990-93 period.This factor pushed the average age at marriage higher.Another sign of the movement away from the traditional concept of family and of the manifestation of sexual freedom was the rising number of out-of-wedlock births.In both east and west, however, the failure of these families to produce the necessary number of children for population replacement was striking.Of the 15 million married couples in the former West Germany, about 57 percent had children.Forty-seven percent of couples with children had one child, 38 percent had two children, and 13 percent had three or more children.In 1950 the average number of persons in German households was 3.0. In 1991 four-person households accounted for 13 percent of the total number of households, three-person households for 16 percent, two-person households for 31 percent, and single-person households for 35 percent.Divorce was always more common in East Germany than it was in West Germany.The number of divorces roughly doubled between 19, going from 25,000 to 49,000.