Nonmarital Childbearing in Europe: Convergence or Divergence in the Educational Gradient?

Brienna Perelli-Harris, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Paola Di Giulio, Vienna Institute of Demography
Katja Köppen, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Dora Kostova, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Michaela Kreyenfeld, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Trude Lappegard, Statistics Norway

This study takes a cross-national comparative approach to study the development of nonmarital childbearing in Europe. Using the Generations and Generation Survey or similar nationally representative surveys, we focus on 12 countries: Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Switzerland and Sweden. Initially, we analyze descriptive statistics, focusing on the distribution of births and conceptions by union status (marriage, cohabitation and single) and how this distribution changes over time. Next, we develop a system of classification that looks at the meaning of cohabitation with respect to childbearing. We then compare changes in the educational gradient for union status at first birth. Taken as a whole, this study shows multiple pathways to family change in Europe, but it also demonstrates that nonmarital childbearing is largely indicative of a divergence in family formation strategies between the most and least educated strata of the population.

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Presented in Session 119: Cohabitation