The effect of labour market uncertainties on first union formation in Hungary

Ivett Szalma, Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Péter Róbert, TARKI Social Research Institute

The aim of our research is to analyze the process of first union formation in Hungary for the cohort of women born in 1965-1981 with a special focus on their employment situation. The changing patterns of union formation (high number of divorces and cohabitations, delay of marriage) and the corresponding decline in fertility suggest that the Eastern European countries entered into the second demographic transition phase. We consider that the changes on the labour market are fundamental because it is one of the most important structural institutions that actually convey the consequences of economic dynamism to everyday people (Spéder 2003). The drastic transformation of the labour market has affected the family formation of women and men born in the 1970s at most. The transition from school to work is postponed to older age of individuals and the processes take more time (Róbert-Bukodi 2005). We examine the choice of cohabitation for women in the light of two competing hypotheses: Do women who are in favorable labor market position choose cohabitation in order to decrease the opportunity cost of the partnership commitment? Are women forced to enter into cohabitation because their labour market position is unstable? The preliminary studies show that less favorable labour market situations do not allow for the establishment of long-term relationships, i.e. marriages (Bukodi 2004; Szalma-Róbert 2007). Young people mostly establish partnerships when their labour-market position is still unsteady, because this stage in life does not allow them to make such definitive decisions as getting married. To explore more detailed analysis we will use the first (2001) and the second (2005) waves of the Hungarian Gender and Generations Survey (GGS), collected by the Demographic Research Institute (HCSO). We apply hazard regression techniques to estimate competing risks of first union formation – either by cohabitation or by direct marriage.

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Presented in Poster Session 1