Childbearing within cohabitation and family stability: testing the role of diffusion using data from 16 European countries, Canada and the U.S.

David Pelletier, Université de Montréal
Christine Schnor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Research shows that non-married (cohabiting) couples have higher separation risks than married couples. In recent decades, proportions of these cohabiting couples and of children born to non-married parents have increased substantially. This study aims to evaluate whether this trend has contributed to a decrease in overall family stability. Using individual survey data and contextual information from 16 European countries, Canada and the US (Harmonized Histories GGS data, German Family Panel, GSS, NLFSG), we build a multilevel model in order to compare the union stability of first-time parents in different settings. Following preliminary findings for German and Canadian regions, we expect to find that despite the extent of the diffusion of childbearing within cohabitation in all countries, family dissolution risks in general remain fairly constant. Indeed, there exist a dynamic mechanism by which the reduction of cohabiting families’ instability counterbalances their growing share among all families during the course of the diffusion process.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 1: Family and fertility