Serial monogamy: an increasingly common pathway to childlessness

Rannveig V. Kaldager, Statistics Norway and University of Oslo

Childbearing, union entry and union dissolution are strongly interrelated processes. A conventional finding in the literatures on union formation and fertility links remaining childless to never having entered a union. A new pathway to childlessness may emerge with increasing union dissolution rates. The increasing incidence of union dissolution means that more and more persons have the opportunity to enter multiple unions throughout their life courses. At the same time, dissolution is known to hinder realization of fertility intentions. This study addresses the link between having had a certain set of union experiences and childlessness. Using a combination of sequence and cluster analysis on union histories for men and women born 1927-66 from the Norwegian Gender and Generation Survey (N=8 493), I construct a holistic taxonomy of experiences with coresidential unions of all kinds, and assess the correlation between an individual having experienced a certain type of union history and the likelihood of remaining childless at age 40. Preliminary results confirm that never having entered a union is a strong predictor of childlessness for all cohorts. However, serial monogamy – having had multiple unions - emerges as a new route to childlessness in younger cohorts.

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Presented in Session 88: Childlessness