Childbearing after union dissolution: does the sequence of union matter?

Sergi Vidal, University of Queensland
Yara Jarallah, Brown University

Research has examined the recent patterns of childbearing out-of-wedlock as well as the associations between childbearing and union transitions. Less systematic has been research on deciphering fertility patterns after union dissolution. This is limiting since life courses are increasingly diverse regarding partnership and family careers, and part of the well-documented changing fertility patterns across union types may be due to factors that lead individuals to dissolve unions and re-partner. We address this gap in knowledge by theorizing and examining how childbearing evolves after union dissolution. For the empirical analysis, we use hazard regression for first-, second- and third-order childbearing episodes of women aged 16 to 40 from the panel study Household, Income and Labor dynamics in Australia. Preliminary results from parity-specific models show that fertility rates are the highest among first-order marital unions. We also find that subsequent unions (to the first one) have increased first-order childbearing rates. Our study contributes to the understanding of contemporary fertility patterns, by shedding light on fertility variations across partnership life courses. Further work will include, among others, the simultaneous estimation of childbearing and union transitions to assess the effect of unobserved factors that commonly affect both processes.

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Presented in Session 91: After divorce and widowhood