Denmark: Immigrant marriage-age increases

Denmark: Immigrant marriage-age increases

I'm a big believer in the power of bureaucracy.  I think that bureaucracy, laws and regulations, are liable to change how people act.  The response might be expected and desired, it might be unexpected, but still desirable, and it might be neither.  For example, I could not find the article now, but when Norwegian authorities started fighting female circumcision, it apparently caused Somali parents to make their daughters go through the procedure at a much earlier age, when they wouldn't be able to tell anybody about it.  Certainly, an unexpected and undesired outcome. 

It is unclear whether the laws introduced in Denmark against forced marriage actually brought about the desired outcome, but they certainly changed the pattern of immigration (until recently, at least, asylum and family reunification immigration dropped, while work and student permit immigration increased),  the choice of marriage partners among immigrants, and even how long immigrants stay in school.

This article is yet another example.  The laws affected the age of marriage among immigrants.  I don't know whether these were expected outcomes, but they're certainly desirable, whether the original desired outcome (fewer forced marriages) is actually achieved or not.


The controversial 24-year rule and the so-called ties requirement has gotten immigrants and their descendants to postpone marriage.  Strikingly fewer marry today in lower ages, than was the case nine years ago.

According to a study by the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, 18% of all 18 to 23 year old immigrants and their descendants married in 2000,  while only 5% exchanged rings in 2008.

"This is a very striking development in so few years," says Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen, one of the researchers responsible for the study, to Kristeligt Dagblad.

The explanation can be found particularly in the stricter rules for family reunification. In 2000, the SR government (Social Democrats and Social Liberals) implemented the so-called ties-requirement, which means that a marriage between a resident of Denmark and a foreigner requires that the ties to Denmark will be stronger than the tires to the other country, in order to obtain family reunification.

And in 2002 the VK-Government (Social Liberals and Conservative People's party) topped that requirement with the so-called 24 year rule, which requires both partners to be over 24 in order to have family reunification in Denmark.

According to the study, the two regulations alone explain 60% of the drop in marriages between immigrants and their descendants 18-23 year old.  The remaining 40% is explained also by the fact that the group of immigrant background had adapted to the Danish marriage pattern, explains Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen.

"So without the 24 year rule and the ties requirement we would also have seen a drop, but not such a big drop," explains Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen.

The study doesn't say whether the 24 year rule limited the number of forced and arranged marriages, which was the aim of the law. 

Margrethe Vestager, head of the Social Liberal Party, says it's annoying that we don't know what happens instead of early marriage.  If the arranged or forced marriage is just put off or something else.  She says she is very afraid that the past six years of having the law were a sort of sleeping pill, where people think that the 24 year law in itself solves the problem.

Source: DR (Danish)

See also:
* Denmark: Marriage immigration drops
* Denmark: Evading the 24 year law
* Denmark: More marriages with residents
* Denmark: Less immigrants dropouts

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