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Understanding Diversity in the Meaning of Cohabitation Across Europe

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  • Nicole Hiekel

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  • Aart Liefbroer
  • Anne-Rigt Poortman

Abstract

This study investigates the diversity in the meanings attached to cohabitation across Europe. Utilizing a sample of 9,113 cohabiters between ages 18 and 79 from 10 European countries that participated in the Generations and Gender Surveys, we develop a typology of different meanings of cohabitation and study their prevalence across and within countries. Based on answers to questions about marriage intentions, marriage attitudes and feelings of economic deprivation, six types of cohabiters are distinguished. Cohabiters in some of these types mainly view cohabitation as a stage in the marriage process (i.e. a prelude to marriage, a trial marriage, cohabitation for economic reasons, intend to marry, despite an unfavourable attitude towards the institution of marriage), whereas other cohabiters mainly view it as an alternative to marriage (i.e. refusal of marriage, marriage is irrelevant). Results suggest that cohabiters constitute a heterogeneous group. For many, marriage is important and cohabitation serves as a period preceding marriage. Cohabitation as an alternative to marriage is more prevalent in Western and Northern Europe, where cohabitation rates are high. The group of cohabiters who intend to marry despite an unfavourable attitude towards the institution of marriage is particularly large in Central and Eastern European countries, where cohabitation is less widespread. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Nicole Hiekel & Aart Liefbroer & Anne-Rigt Poortman, 2014. "Understanding Diversity in the Meaning of Cohabitation Across Europe," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 30(4), pages 391-410, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eurpop:v:30:y:2014:i:4:p:391-410
    DOI: 10.1007/s10680-014-9321-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brienna Perelli-Harris & Laura Bernardi, 2015. "Exploring social norms around cohabitation: The life course, individualization, and culture," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(25), pages 701-732.
    2. Lívia Murinkó, 2019. "Housing consequences of divorce and separation in a 'super home ownership' regime: The case of Hungary," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 40(34), pages 975-1014.
    3. Brienna Perelli-Harris & Stefanie Hoherz & Trude Lappegård & Ann Evans, 2019. "Mind the “Happiness” Gap: The Relationship Between Cohabitation, Marriage, and Subjective Well-being in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Norway," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(4), pages 1219-1246, August.
    4. Claudia Geist, 2017. "Marriage Formation in Context: Four Decades in Comparative Perspective," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-16, January.
    5. Aart C. Liefbroer & Anne-Rigt Poortman & Judith Seltzer, 2015. "Why do intimate partners live apart? Evidence on LAT relationships across Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(8), pages 251-286.
    6. Philipp M. Lersch & Sergi Vidal, 2016. "My house or our home? Transitions into sole home ownership in British couples," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(6), pages 139-166.
    7. Yolien De Hauw & André Grow & Jan Van Bavel, 2017. "The Reversed Gender Gap in Education and Assortative Mating in Europe," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 33(4), pages 445-474, October.
    8. Anne-Rigt Poortman & Belinda Hewitt, 2017. "Editorial for Special Collection on New Relationships from a Comparative Perspective," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 37(2), pages 13-24.
    9. Amparo González-Ferrer & Tina Hannemann & Teresa Castro-Martín, 2016. "Partnership formation and dissolution among immigrants in the Spanish context," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(1), pages 1-30.
    10. Jarl E. Mooyaart & Aart C. Liefbroer, 2016. "The Influence of Parental Education on Timing and Type of Union Formation: Changes Over the Life Course and Over Time in the Netherlands," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 885-919, August.
    11. Brienna Perelli-Harris & Stefanie Hoherz & Fenaba Addo & Trude Lappegård & Ann Evans & Sharon Sassler & Marta Styrc, 2018. "Do Marriage and Cohabitation Provide Benefits to Health in Mid-Life? The Role of Childhood Selection Mechanisms and Partnership Characteristics Across Countries," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 37(5), pages 703-728, October.
    12. Jennifer A. Holland & Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik & Lars Dommermuth, 2018. "Transitions from first unions among immigrants and their descendants. The role of partner choice," Discussion Papers 887, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    13. Alisa C. Lewin, 2018. "Intentions to Live Together Among Couples Living Apart: Differences by Age and Gender," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 34(5), pages 721-743, December.
    14. Tina Hannemann & Hill Kulu & Leen Rahnu & Allan Puur & Mihaela Hărăguş & Ognjen Obućina & Amparo González-Ferrer & Karel Neels & Layla Van den Berg & Ariane Pailhé & Gina Potarca & Laura Bernardi, 2018. "Co-ethnic marriage versus intermarriage among immigrants and their descendants: A comparison across seven European countries using event-history analysis," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 39(17), pages 487-524.
    15. Paola Di Giulio & Roberto Impicciatore & Maria Sironi, 2019. "The changing pattern of cohabitation: A sequence analysis approach," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 40(42), pages 1211-1248.
    16. Éva Beaujouan, 2016. "Second Unions Now More Stable than First? A Comparison of Separation Risks by Union Order in France," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 293-321, May.
    17. Nicole Hiekel & Renske Keizer, 2015. "Risk-avoidance or utmost commitment," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(10), pages 311-340.
    18. Roberta Rutigliano & Gøsta Esping-Andersen, 2018. "Partnership Choice and Childbearing in Norway and Spain," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 34(3), pages 367-386, August.
    19. Tom Kleinepier & Helga de Valk, 2016. "Ethnic differences in family trajectories of young adult women in the Netherlands: Timing and sequencing of events," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(24), pages 671-710.

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