Family composition and union dissolution among families with children in Sweden

Livia Olah, Stockholm University
Jani Turunen, Stockholm University

Partnership stability has decreased substantially in Europe, even among families with children. In parallel, new family forms in which not necessarily both parties of a couple are the biological parents of all the children, have become more common. In this paper, we seek to shed more light on the impact of family composition on the dissolution risk among families with children. We focus on Sweden given its strong emphasis on gender equality also with respect to parenting, and generous family support system. We analyze data from the Young Adult Panel Study, conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2009. Piecewise constant proportional hazards model is our tool of analysis. Our results reveal that stepfamilies have an elevated breakup risk compared to intact families but also to blended families. The slightly higher disruption risk seen among blended families, as compared to intact families, is not statistically significant. Stepmother families and where both partners have children from previous partnerships but no joint children have the highest breakup risks. Among non-intact families, those with both joint children and the woman’s children in the household are the least likely to break up, followed by blended families having also the woman’s and the man’s children living with the couple. Thus the results suggest that family compositions have a differential impact on family disruption, and it is important to distinguish by the gender of the stepparent as well as between step- and blended families.

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Presented in Session 108: Union formation and union dissolution