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The educational gradient of nonmarital childbearing in Europe: emergence of a pattern of disadvantage?

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  • Brienna Perelli-Harris

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Wendy Sigle-Rushton
  • Michaela Kreyenfeld

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Trude Lappegård
  • Caroline Berghammer

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Renske Keizer

Abstract

Nearly every European country has experienced some increase in nonmarital childbearing, largely due to increasing births within cohabitation. Relatively few studies in Europe, however, investigate the educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation or how it changed over time. Using retrospective union and fertility histories, we employ competing risk hazard models to examine the educational gradient of childbearing in cohabitation in 8 countries across Europe. In all countries studied, birth risks within cohabitation demonstrated a negative educational gradient. When directly comparing cohabiting fertility with marital fertility, the negative educational gradient persists in all countries except Italy, although differences were not significant in Austria, France, and Germany. These findings suggest that childbearing within cohabitation largely follows a Pattern of Disadvantage. We argue that the Pattern of Disadvantage developed due to: 1) feminist and social movements that liberalized attitudes towards nonmarital childbearing, and 2) globalization and economic uncertainty that led to job insecurity and relationship instability. This explanation provides an alternative to the Second Demographic Transition theory, for which we find little evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Brienna Perelli-Harris & Wendy Sigle-Rushton & Michaela Kreyenfeld & Trude Lappegård & Caroline Berghammer & Renske Keizer, 2010. "The educational gradient of nonmarital childbearing in Europe: emergence of a pattern of disadvantage?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2010-004
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ron J. Lesthaeghe & Lisa Neidert, 2006. "The Second Demographic Transition in the United States: Exception or Textbook Example?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(4), pages 669-698.
    2. Patrick Heuveline & Jeffrey M. Timberlake & Frank F. Furstenberg, 2003. "Shifting Childrearing to Single Mothers: Results from 17 Western Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(1), pages 47-71.
    3. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    4. Sergei Zakharov, 2008. "Russian Federation: From the first to second demographic transition," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(24), pages 907-972, July.
    5. Newell, Andrew & Reilly, Barry, 1997. "Rates of Return to Educational Qualifications in the Transitional Economies," Discussion Papers in Economics 03/97, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    6. Aart Liefbroer & Edith Dourleijn, 2006. "Unmarried cohabitation and union stability: Testing the role of diffusion using data from 16 European countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 203-221, May.
    7. Sara Mclanahan, 2004. "Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(4), pages 607-627, November.
    8. Gunnar Andersson & Dimiter Philipov, 2002. "Life-table representations of family dynamics in Sweden, Hungary, and 14 other FFS countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 7(4), pages 67-144, August.
    9. Tomáš Sobotka, 2008. "Overview Chapter 6: The diverse faces of the Second Demographic Transition in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(8), pages 171-224, July.
    10. R. Raley, 2001. "Increasing fertility in cohabiting unions: evidence for the second demographic transition in the united states?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 59-66, February.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Europe; UN; childbearing; cohabitation; family formation; fertility; unmarried mothers;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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