European Journal of Population

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 101–131 | Cite as

Union Histories of Dissolution: What Can They Say About Childlessness?

  • Rannveig Kaldager HartEmail author


This study investigates how the association between union dissolution and childlessness depends on life course context. Data on union histories and fertility are taken from the Norwegian GGS. To observe union histories up to age 45, I include men and women born 1927–1962. I further condition on having experienced at least one union dissolution before age 45, giving a study sample of 883 men and 1110 women. To capture the life course context of union dissolutions, I group union histories similar in timing, occurrence and ordering of events using sequence analysis. Eight well-clustered groups of union histories are distinguished. Four consist of life courses dominated by a long first or second union and display low levels of childlessness. The highest proportion childlessness is found among individuals who entered a first union late and dissolved it quickly. Groups characterised by long spells alone after a dissolution or many short unions also displayed a high proportion of childlessness. In contrast to findings from the USA, neither union trajectories nor their link with childlessness varies by educational attainment.


Childlessness Sequence analysis Union dissolution Second demographic transition 



The work was supported by the Norwegian Research Council under Grants No. 202442S20 and 236926.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no potential conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Human GeographyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Research DepartmentStatistics NorwayOsloNorway

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