Income pooling strategies among cohabiting and married couples: a comparative perspective

Nicole Hiekel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Aart C. Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Anne-Rigt Poortman, Utrecht University

The study investigates the differences between married and cohabiting couples with regard to their income pooling strategies across different European societies. Two research questions are addressed: Do cohabiting and married couples differ in their income pooling strategies and if so, how can these differences be explained? Secondly, are these differences and their explanations the same across different European countries? Three general hypotheses are tested. On the one hand, differences in the income pooling of spouses and cohabitants might be explained by selection. Hence, individual background characteristics are expected to determine both the choice of a relationship type and the income pooling arrangement partners decide upon. On the other hand, the manner in which a couple manages their money might be causally related to the character of the relationship type itself. Being either married or cohabiting could ask for different income pooling strategies. Third, the extent to which cohabitants and married people differ in their income pooling strategies might depend on the level of institutionalization of cohabitation in a country. The more people cohabit, the less selective this group will be. Furthermore, the more cohabitation is perceived as an alternative to be married, the more likely these couples opt for pooled income, thus the smaller the difference between spouses and cohabitants with regard to money management. We use data from seven national Gender and Generation Surveys (GGS 2005/2006), namely Georgia, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, France and Norway. Hypotheses are tested by applying logistic regression models.

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Presented in Session 15: Comparison of the dynamics of marriage and cohabitation