Marriages to foreigners increasing with Czech women preferring Westerners

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

According to the latest official figures, the number of marriages between Czechs and foreigners has been on the increase in recent years. But why are Czech women more likely to marry Westerners while their male counterparts seem to favour spouses from Eastern Europe? Ian Willoughby reports.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The number of marriages between Czech citizens and foreigners has been on the rise in the last few years. According to freshly released data from the Czech Statistics Office quoted by iDnes.cz, there were nearly 5,000 such unions in 2015, up from just over 4,000 in the early part of the decade.

This trend is being driven by Czech women, who last year made 70 percent more marriages to foreigners than their male counterparts.

Slovak spouses are the most popular, with similar figures for both genders in 2015.

But looking past Slovaks, when it comes to international nuptials, Czech men tend to get hitched to Ukrainians, Russians and Poles. Czech women, by contrast, more favour grooms from countries such as Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Sociologist Jiřina Šiklová says one reason for this is a long-standing positive view of the West.

“For us, overseas is still attractive. Because today’s generation grew up believing that the West equates to freedom, and that people there are better off. There’s also a large economic factor in this, because many Czech women aren’t interested in two-worker homes, where they have to look after the kids, go to work and also clean. And we have the illusion that that doesn’t exist in the West.”

Be that as it may, why are Czech women the ones getting wed to Westerners? Jiřina Šiklová says local men may not be perceived as a good catch, while other factors are also at play.

Jiřina Šiklová, photo: Alžběta Švarcová
“I think Czech men aren’t so attractive to Western women. Firstly from the financial perspective. Czech men have also lost a certain romantic image as being refugees, which they had in the past. For them women from the East, such as Ukrainians, are attractive. It’s partly connected to the fact that women from post-communist states are less emancipated than Czech women and will be far more dependent on them.”

With purely Czech unions having stagnated in recent years, the number of international marriages is now an increasing share of the total, around 11 percent.

The number of foreigners living in the Czech Republic is currently at an all-time high of 465,000, according to government figures. Czech schools and maternity hospitals also report a record level of interest on the part of non-nationals.