The similarity of marriage and cohabitation in question: new family forms in Switzerland

Valérie-Anne Ryser, Swiss Foundation for Research in the Social Sciences (FORS)
Jean-Marie Le Goff, Université de Lausanne

Previous results based on the Swiss Household Panel demonstrated that in the 2000s childbearing within cohabitation may be considered as an avant-garde family style rather than a marker of poverty. Cohabitant couples exhibited more equal division of tasks, more individual autonomy and less traditional attitudes toward family compared to married ones. However, the increase of out-of-wedlock children rose from 7% in 1995 to 22 % in 2014. Then, extra-marital births cannot anymore be considered scarce in the context of the 2010s. The present article aims at understanding to what extend childbearing within marriage and cohabitation are still different; or contrariwise to what extent cohabitation and childbearing within cohabitation is slightly becoming an alternative to marriage? Based on the data from the Swiss “Family and Generation survey 2013”, this presentation investigates to what extent individuals who marry or cohabit still express different level of emotional well-being such as positive and negative affects, and different family attitudes, gender opinion and difficulties with the work and family organization. The particularity of this article is to consider the heterogeneity of cohabitation: Two different groups of cohabitant are distinguished: first a group of individuals who declared to live in a cohabiting union, and second a group of individuals who declared living in a cohabiting union and having children. Based on ordinal regression first preliminary results tend to indicate that cohabiting and married individuals still differ on some dimensions taking into account. Cohabitant and married individuals do not seem to express different family or gender attitudes. However, cohabitant individuals tend to declare more negative affect, tend to express less traditional perspectives on family organization and express more difficulties with work and family organization. To conclude, in Switzerland sharing more egalitarian values seem to have a cost in a societal context that not foster non marital childbearing.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session 3