Family Forerunners? Parental Divorce and Partnership Formation in Comparative Perspective

Juho Härkönen, Stockholm University
Jaap Dronkers, Universiteit Maastricht

We use data from the Fertility and Families Surveys and Gender and Generations Surveys to analyze the associations between parental divorce and partnership formation in 18 countries. We found using the FFS that in almost all countries, children of divorce entered into coresidential unions younger, and that this first union was more likely to be an unmarried rather than married one. However, there were very few differences in eventual marriage between those whose parents had divorced and those whose had not. We do, however, find some cross-cohort changes in the latter association so that while the children of divorce married earlier in the older cohorts, the difference becomes smaller in the younger ones. These findings suggest that children of divorce may have been in the forefront of novel partnership forms and that different aspects of family change (here, divorce, rise in cohabitation, decrease in marriage) may have been mutually reinforcing.

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Presented in Session 22: International Perspectives on Intergenerational Relationships