Cross-national variation in repartnering across Europe and in the U.S.: the role of age patterns of first union formation and dissolution and childbearing

Paulina Galezewska, University of Southampton
Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton
Ann M. Berrington, University of Southampton

Cross-national variations in the prevalence of divorce and cohabitation have produced profound differences in the level and pace of repartnering in Europe and the US (Galezewska et al. 2013). In this paper we examine three factors that can explain differences in repartnering behaviour across countries: 1) changes in the type of first union; 2) the age pattern of union formation and dissolution; and 3) the presence of children in the previous union. Changes in type of first partnership have important implication for repartnering dynamics. Cohabiting unions tend to be less stable than marital unions (Heuveline et al. 2003), thus resulting in increased exposure to repartnering. Age and parenthood status at union dissolution have been found to be the most important predictors of women’s chances to repartner. Differences in age and fertility at union dissolution across countries can therefore play an important role in repartnering. This paper uses the “Harmonized Histories” dataset which contains cleaned, harmonized and highly comparable partnership histories collected from individuals within various surveys in 14 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the UK) and the US. We focus on repartnering behaviour of women born between 1945 and 1974. We use discrete time hazard models, for each country separately and for pooled cross-national data, to examine cross-national differences in the likelihood of repartnering and the extent to which these differences are explained by cross-national differences in first partnership type, age at dissolution, and the presence and age of children at dissolution. The results will extend our understanding of how different family processes are interrelated across life-course, and how the interplay between first union type and the age and parenthood status at union dissolution explains the differences in repartnering across countries.

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Presented in Session 8: Changing unions: trends and impacts