Stability and Change: The Structuration of Partnership Histories in Canada, the Netherlands, and the Russian Federation

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Abstract

This paper explores stability and change in women's partnership histories since the late 1940s in Canada, the Netherlands, and the Russian Federation. Giddens' (1984) theory of structuration is used to understand how the social structure enables or constrains behaviour. Entire partnership histories are examined by applying a Markov and semi-Markov multistate approach to investigate the type, timing, duration, and complexity of partnerships. Results show earlier union formation for younger cohorts in the Russian Federation compared to postponement trends in the other countries. Cohabitation appears to increasingly serve as an alternative to marriage, particularly in Canada. When facilitated by the social structure, divorce levels are high (Russian Federation, Canada). Widowhood in the Russian Federation persists even among younger women. Re-partnering is the highest in the Russian Federation, with post-marital cohabitation gaining ground in Canada. Partnership histories are increasingly complex in the Netherlands and particularly Canada but remain stable in the Russian Federation.