Socioeconomic Resources and the Dissolution of Cohabitations and Marriages

  • Marika JalovaaraEmail author


A large body of research focuses on the (socio)economic antecedents of marriage dissolution. Less is known about the factors that affect the stability of cohabitations. The focus in this study, which is based on Finnish register data, is on whether the socioeconomic resources of the partners affect the stability of cohabitations and marriages in a similar way. According to the results, a lower level of education, unemployment (of the man in particular) and the male partner’s (or the couple’s) low income increased dissolution rates in unions of both types. The stabilizing effects of each partner’s high educational level as well as the male partner’s employment and high income were stronger in marriages. The union types also seemed to differ in that the separation-promoting effect of the female partner’s high (absolute or relative) income was stronger in marriages, but high-income women are few and the interactions between union type and the income of the female partner were statistically insignificant. The overall conclusion is that in the Finnish context, the socioeconomic antecedents of union dissolution are remarkably similar in cohabitations and marriages, but socioeconomic resources are somewhat more important for the stability of marriages. Only weak support was found for the idea that cohabitations are more compatible with income equality.


Separation Divorce Socioeconomic factors Cohabitation Register data Finland 

Ressources socio-économiques et dissolution des cohabitations et des mariages


Un grand nombre d’études s’intéresse aux antécédents socio-économiques des dissolutions de mariage. Les facteurs qui ont une influence sur la stabilité des cohabitations sont moins connus. Cet article, basé sur des données du registre finlandais, étudie si les ressources socio-économiques des partenaires affectent de la même manière la stabilité des cohabitations et des mariages. Nos résultats montrent qu’un plus bas niveau d’instruction, le chômage (de l’homme en particulier), et de faibles revenus du partenaire masculin (ou du couple) augmentent les taux de dissolution pour les deux types d’union. Les effets stabilisateurs d’un niveau d’instruction élevé pour chacun des partenaires, d’un emploi pour le partenaire masculin et de revenus élevés étaient plus importants pour les mariages. Les résultats différent selon le type d’union. L’effet positif sur les ruptures d’un revenu élevé (absolu ou relatif) de la partenaire féminine était plus fort dans le cas de mariage, mais le nombre de femmes avec un haut niveau de revenus est faible et les interactions entre le type d‘unions et le revenu de la partenaire féminine sont statistiquement non-significatifs. En conclusion, dans le contexte finlandais, les antécédents socio-économiques des dissolutions d’union sont remarquablement similaires, mais les ressources socio-économiques ont un effet un peu plus marqué sur la stabilité des mariages. L’hypothèse qu’une égalité de revenus soit plus compatible avec la cohabitation se trouve peu appuyée par nos résultats.


Séparation Divorce Facteurs socio-économiques Cohabitation Données de registre Finlande 



The author is grateful for the useful comments provided by Jani Erola, Jan M. Hoem, Juho Härkönen, Torkild H. Lyngstad, Elina Mäenpää, the anonymous referees, and the editors, and Elina Mäenpää also for her invaluable contributions during the data creation phase. The study has been funded by the Academy of Finland (decision numbers 126562 and 138208).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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