Socio-economic effects on union formation among second generation migrant women in Belgium

Layla Van den Berg, Universiteit Antwerpen
Karel Neels, Universiteit Antwerpen

With second and higher generation migrants entering adulthood at a high rate, their patterns of family formation are increasingly being studied in demographic literature. This paper attempts to contribute to the existing literature by examining the association between socio-economic characteristics and partnership patterns among second generation migrants in Belgium. While the theoretical frameworks attempting to explain the association between socio-economic characteristics and union formation are strongly rooted in demographic research, they mostly do not account for population heterogeneity in terms of different origin groups. We study these mechanisms among Southern European, Turkish and Moroccan second generation migrant women in Belgium using the Belgian Administrative Socio-Demographic Panel on the period 2003-2010. Descriptive results indicate that direct marriage is the main type of first union formation among Turkish and Moroccan young adult women whereas Belgian and Southern European second generation women mostly opt for cohabitation as a first union. With respect to the influence of socio-economic characteristics on union formation both labour market participation and income level have a positive effect on union formation. Analyses including both indicators suggest that the positive effect of labour market position is mainly channelled through the higher income levels associated with labour market participation. In addition, socio-economic effects for Southern European second generation women are fairly similar to the effects among Belgian women while socio-economic effects do differ significantly for Turkish and Moroccan women. A general observation is that the negative effects of lower levels of labour market participation and income in particular are significantly weaker among Turkish and Moroccan women. However, among all origin groups the general mechanism is similar with higher levels of labour market participation and income yielding higher odds of union formation.

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 Presented in Session 101. Comparative perspectives on intermarriage in Europe