Parental divorce and union formation: a comparison of 18 countries

Juho Härkönen, Stockholm University
Jaap Dronkers, Universiteit Maastricht

Parental divorce may have far-reaching consequences on educational outcomes, psychological well-being, and family demographic behavior. Previous research has documented how parental divorce is associated with a heightened risk of dissolution of one’s own marriage in various countries (Dronkers and Härkönen 2008). There has been less research on the implications of parental divorce on union formation behavior, and the existing studies show some conflicting patterns. In this study, we analyze the relationships between parental divorce and union formation outcomes in 18 countries. As outcomes, we analyze entry into first cohabitation and entry into first marriage. We expect that parental divorce is associated with higher rates of entry to cohabitation, but lower rates of marriage, and that the strength of these associations varies across countries. We aim to link this expected variation to macro-level factors that measure features of the family institution, degree of economic development, social and family policies. We use data for women from the Fertility and Family Surveys (FFS) for Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Flanders, France, East Germany, West Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The outcomes will be analyzed simultaneously with data and methods for interlinked processes (e.g.,Steele 2008).

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Presented in Session 45: Determinants and consequences of union dissolution