Do children and order of the union matter for union stability? Cross-national comparison

Zuzana Zilincikova, Masaryk University

Motivated by the lack of official statistics and the lack of systematic estimates in European countries, the aim of this paper is to map the dissolutions of cohabitations across European countries. The paper studies more recent cohabitations (formed after 1990) in greater depth, which is achieved by distinguishing different types of cohabitations – with children; without children; first; and higher order –, and compares them to marriage. The sample of unions is drawn from retrospective data from the Generations and Gender Survey for 14 European countries and is studied by means of survival analysis. The results confirm that, in all countries, cohabitations are always less stable unions than marriages, regardless of the observed subgroup. Further, the results show that cohabitations with a child present are more stable than childless cohabitations in ten out of fourteen countries and in five countries the effect of child presence is even stronger than for marriage. First cohabitations are more stable than second and higher order cohabitations; however, controlling for selectivity markedly reduces the effect and in most of the countries, the order of cohabitation no longer has a significant effect on cohabitation stability.

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Presented in Session 79: Divorce and union dissolution 2