Family forerunners? Parental separation and partnership formation in 16 countries

Link to Publication (External Site)

This paper looks at whether children whose parents separated are more likely to cohabit rather than get married.

The researchers looked at the partnerships of more than 130,000 men and women in 16 countries over five birth cohorts spanning 50 years.

The research – one of the first to look at partnership formation patterns across countries and over time and the first to look at what might be influencing the change – found that the proportion of peoplewho were married when they first began living with a partner decreased over time in all countries.

Children whose parents divorced were, on the whole, more likely to form unmarried cohabiting partnerships rather than get married and the research concluded that these children were largely responsible for driving the move towards fewer marriages and more cohabitation.

However, the research also showed that when cohabitation became overall more common, it spread faster among couples whose parents stayed together, something they believe reinforces the importance and relevance of parental separation as a catalyst for family change over time.