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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    For a total of 105 unions in this sample, the previous union was reported as dissolved before the next union was entered into. For these unions, the time of union dissolution was set to two months before entry into the next union.

  2. 2.

    While it could also be of great substantive interest to also look at work or earnings histories, these are not available in data for the full sample.

  3. 3.

    i.e. the distance between two states is inversely proportional to the frequency of transition between these two states (Lesnard 2010, p. 401).

  4. 4.

    In general, AGNES algorithms start with N clusters, merging clusters stepwise until it reaches one cluster with N observations (Kaufman and Rousseeuw 2005, p. 199). For calculation of dissimilarity between clusters, the Ward method is applied, as suggested for sequence analysis (Gabadinho et al. 2011).

  5. 5.

    Birth cohorts are grouped into 5-year categories with two exceptions: the oldest cohorts (1927–1934) are grouped together for statistical power, and the youngest cohort (1960–1962) has a narrower range. A quadratic specification of birth cohort did not improve the efficiency of the model, but failed to capture the strong nonlinearities in the cohort trend, and a dummy specification was hence preferred.

  6. 6.

    Model 1d omits the interaction between educational attainment and cluster for statistical power and is hence built stepwise from Model 1b.

  7. 7.

    Weights for region of residence, centrality, sex, and educational attainment are included to correct for selective non-response (Bjørshol et al. 2010).

  8. 8.

    Predictions are made based on estimates in Model 1a. The predicted probability for cluster k is defined as \(pp_k = \hat{\beta }_0 + \hat{\beta }_k\).

References

  1. Abbott, A. (1992). From causes to events: Notes on narrative positivism. Sociological Methods & Research, 20(4), 428–455.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Aisenbrey, S., & Fasang, A. (2010). New life for old ideas: The “second wave” of sequence analysis bringing the “course” back into the life course. Sociological Methods & Research, 30(3), 420–462.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Andersson, G. (1997). The impact of children on divorce risks of Swedish women. European Journal of Population/Revue Européenne de Démographie, 13(2), 109–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Balbo, N., Billari, F., & Mills, M. (2013). Fertility in advanced societies: A review of research. European Journal of Population/Revue Européenne de Démographie, 29(1), 1–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bjørshol, E., Høstmark, M., & Lagerstrøm, B. O. (2010). Livsløp , generasjon og kjønn. LOGG 2007 Dokumentasjonsrapport [The life course, generation and gender. LOGG 2007. Documentation report]. Notater 19/2010. Technical report, Statistics Norway.

  6. Bukodi, E. (2012). Serial cohabitation among men in Britain: Does work history matter? European Journal of Population/Revue Européenne de Démographie, 28(4), 441–466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bzostek, S. H., McLanahan, S. S., & Carlson, M. J. (2012). Mothers’ repartnering after a nonmarital birth. Social Forces, 90(3), 817–841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cingano, F. (2014). Trends in income inequality and its impact on economic growth. Technical report, OECD social, employment and migration working papers, no. 163, Paris: OECD Publishing.

  9. Cohen, J., & Manning, W. (2010). The relationship context of premarital serial cohabitation. Social Science Research, 39(5), 766–776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dommermuth, L., & Wiik, K. A. (2014). First, second or third time around? The number of co-residential relationships among young Norwegians. Young, 22(4), 323–343.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2011). Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Ellingsæter, A. L., & Pedersen, E. (2013). Economic risk, fertility and the welfare state: Understanding individual rationales. In The social meaning of children and fertility change in Europe (pp. 31–47). New York: Routledge.

  13. Esping-Andersen, G. (2013). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Hoboken: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Fasang, A. E., & Liao, T. F. (2014). Visualizing sequences in the social sciences: Relative frequency sequence plots. Sociological Methods & Research, 43(4), 643–676.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Furstenberg, F. F. (2014). Fifty years of family change: From consensus to complexity. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 654, 12–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gabadinho, A., Ritschard, G., & Studer, M. (2011). Analyzing and visualizing state sequences in R with TraMineR. Journal of Statistical Software, 40(4), 1–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Giddens, A. (1993). The transformation of intimacy: Love, sexuality and eroticism in modern society. Cambridge: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Graefe, D. R., & Lichter, D. T. (2007). When unwed mothers marry: The marital and cohabiting partners of midlife women. Journal of Family Issues, 28(5), 595–622.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Grundy, E., & Kravdal, Ø. (2008). Reproductive history and mortality in late middle age among Norwegian men and women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(3), 271–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Guzzo, K. B., & Hayford, S. R. (2012). Unintended fertility and the stability of coresidential relationships. Social Science Research, 41(5), 1138–1151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hart, R. K., Lyngstad, T. H., & Vinberg, E. (2017). Children and union dissolution across four decades: Evidence from Norway. European Sociological Review, 33(2), 317–331.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Hayford, S. R. (2009). The evolution of fertility expectations over the life course. Demography, 46(4), 765–783.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Heuveline, P., & Timberlake, J. M. (2004). The role of cohabitation in family formation: The United States in comparative perspective. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(5), 1214–1230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Jokela, M., Rotkirch, A., Rickard, I. J., Pettay, J., & Lummaa, V. (2010). Serial monogamy increases reproductive success in men but not in women. Behavioral Ecology, 21(5), 906–912.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kaufman, L., & Rousseeuw, P. J. (2005). Finding groups in data: An introduction to cluster analysis. Hoboken: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Keizer, R., Dykstra, P. A., & Jansen, M. D. (2008). Pathways into childlessness: Evidence of gendered life course dynamics. Journal of Biosocial Science, 40(6), 863–878.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kjeldstad, R. (1998). Enslige forsørgere: Forsørgelse og levekår før og etter overgang til en ny livsfase [Lone providers: Providing and living conditions before and after the transition to a new phase of life]., Social and economic studies Oslo: Statistics Norway.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kravdal, Ø., & Rindfuss, R. R. (2008). Changing relationships between education and fertility: A study of women and men born 1940 to 1964. American Sociological Review, 73(5), 854–873.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kreyenfeld, M., Hornung, A., & Kubisch, K. (2013). The German generations and gender survey: Some critical reflections on the validity of fertility histories. Comparative Population Studies, 38, 3–28.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lappegård, T., & Noack, T. (2015). The link between parenthood and partnership in contemporary norway-findings from focus group research. Demographic Research, 32, 287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lappegård, T., & Rønsen, M. (2005). The multifaceted impact of education on entry into motherhood. European Journal of Population/Revue Européenne de Démographie, 21(1), 31–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lappegård, T., & Rønsen, M. (2013). Socioeconomic differences in multipartner fertility among Norwegian men. Demography, 50(3), 1135–1153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Lappegård, T., Rønsen, M., & Skrede, K. (2011). Fatherhood and fertility. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, 9(1), 103–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lareau, A. (2000). Social class and the daily lives of children: A study from the United States. Childhood, 7(2), 155–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lesnard, L. (2010). Setting cost in optimal matching to uncover contemporaneous socio-temporal patterns. Sociological Methods & Research, 38(3), 389–419.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lesthaeghe, R. (2010). The unfolding story of the Second Demographic Transition. Population and Development Review, 36(2), 211–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Lesthaeghe, R., & Surkyn, J. (1988). Cultural dynamics and economic theories of fertility change. Population and Development Review, 14(1), 1–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Lichter, D. T., & Qian, Z. (2008). Serial cohabitation and the marital life course. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(4), 861–878.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Liefbroer, A. C. (2009). Changes in family size intentions across young adulthood: A life-course perspective. European Journal of Population/Revue Européenne de Démographie, 25(4), 363–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Liefbroer, A. C., & Billari, F. C. (2010). Bringing norms back in: A theoretical and empirical discussion of their importance for understanding demographic behaviour. Population, Space and Place, 16(4), 287–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Lillard, L. A., & Waite, L. J. (1993). A joint model of marital childbearing and marital disruption. Demography, 30(4), 653.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Lin, N., Ensel, W. M., & Lai, W. F. G. (1997). Construction and use of the life history calendar: Reliability and validity of recall data. In A. Gotlib & B. Wheaton (Eds.), Stress and adversity over the life course: Trajectories and turning points (pp. 249–272). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Lyngstad, T. H. (2004). The impact of parents’ and spouses’ education of divorce rates in Norway. Demographic Research, 10, 122–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Lyngstad, T. H., & Jalovaara, M. (2010). A review of the antecedents of union dissolution. Demographic Research, 23(10), 257–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. McLanahan, S. (2004). Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition. Demography, 41(4), 607–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Mood, C. (2010). Logistic regression: Why we cannot do what we think we can do, and what we can do about it. European Sociological Review, 26(1), 67–82. https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcp006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Mynarska, M., Matysiak, A., Rybinska, A., Tocchioni, V., & Vignoli, D. (2015). Diverse paths to childlessness over the life course. Advances in Life Course Research, 25, 35–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Perelli-Harris, B., Sigle-Rushton, W., Kreyenfeld, M., Lappegård, T., Keizer, R., & Berghammer, C. (2010). The educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation in Europe. Population and Development Review, 36(4), 775–801.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Perelli-Harris, B., Kreyenfeld, M., Sigle-Rushton, W., Keizer, R., Lappegård, T., Jasilioniene, A., et al. (2012). Changes in union status during the transition to parenthood in eleven European countries, 1970s to early 2000s. Population Studies, 66(2), 167–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Piccarreta, R., & Lior, O. (2010). Exploring sequences: A graphical tool based on multi-dimensional scaling. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 173(1), 165–184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Poortman, A. R., & Lyngstad, T. H. (2007). Dissolution risks in first and higher order marital and cohabiting unions. Social Science Research, 36(4), 1431–1446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Qian, Z., Lichter, D. T., & Mellott, L. M. (2005). Out-of-wedlock childbearing, marital prospects and mate selection. Social Forces, 84(1), 473–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Reisel, L. (2013). Is more always better? Early career returns to education in the United States and Norway. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 31, 49–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Rousseeuw, P. J. (1987). Silhouettes: A graphical aid to the interpretation and validation of cluster analysis. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 20, 53–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Sassler, S., & Miller, A. J. (2011). Class differences in cohabitation processes. Family Relations, 60(2), 163–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Stefansen, K. (2008). Et uendelig ansvar. Om foreldreskap i middelklassen [Unlimited responsibilities. Middle class parenting in Norway]. In B. P. Bø & B. C. R. Olsen (Eds.), Utfordrende foreldreskap - under ulike livsbetingelser og tradisjoner [Challenging parenthood—Under varying life conditions and traditions] (pp. 27–50). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Studer, M., & Ritschard, G. (2016). What matters in differences between life trajectories: A comparative review of sequence dissimilarity measures. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 179(2), 481–511.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Syltevik, L. J. (2010). Sense and sensibility: Cohabitation in ‘cohabitation land’. The Sociological Review, 58(3), 444–462.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Tanturri, M. L., Mills, M., Rotkirch, A., Sobotka, T., Takacks, J., Miettinen, A., Faludi, C., Kantsa, V., & Nasiri, D. (2015). State-of-the-art report: Childlessness in Europe. Technical report 32, Families and societies working paper series.

  60. Thomson, E. (1997). Couple childbearing desires, intentions, and births. Demography, 34(3), 343–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Thomson, E., Winkler-Dworak, M., Spielauer, M., & Prskawetz, A. (2012). Union instability as an engine of fertility? A microsimulation model for France. Demography, 49(1), 175–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Thomson, E., Lappegård, T., Carlson, M., Evans, A., & Gray, E. (2014). Childbearing across partnerships in Australia, the United States, Norway, and Sweden. Demography, 51(2), 485–508.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Tjøtta, S., & Vaage, K. (2008). Public transfers and marital dissolution. Journal of Population Economics, 21(2), 419–437.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Vikat, A., Spéder, Z., Beets, G., Billari, F. C., Bühler, C., Désesquelles, A., et al. (2007). Generations and Gender Survey (GGS): Towards a better understanding of relationships and processes in the life course. Demographic Research, 17, 389–440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Wiik, K. A. (2009). ’You’d Better Wait!’—Socioeconomic background and timing of first marriage versus first cohabitation. European Sociological Review, 25(2), 139–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Wooldridge, J. M. (2010). Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data (2nd ed.). Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rannveig Kaldager Hart.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author declares no potential conflict of interest.

Additional information

Earlier drafts of this paper have been presented at the PAA 2014 in Boston, EPC 2014 in Budapest, and the graduate students writing seminar at Department of Demography, UC Berkeley. I am grateful to participants in these meetings, as well as Synøve N. Andersen, Janna Bergsvik, Paul Chung, Joshua Goldstein, Trude Lappegård, Torkild H. Lyngstad, Kjetil Telle and Elina Vinberg for comments on earlier drafts. I acknowledge assistance from Elina Vinberg and Torkild H. Lyngstad in preparation of the data set.

Appendix

Appendix

See Figs.2, 3 and Table 6.

Fig. 2
figure2

Distribution on cluster by cohort

Fig. 3
figure3

Within–between ratio (left panel) and average silhouette width (right panel) for different sequencing techniques and cluster solutions

Table 6 Model 1e: The association between union history (as captured by cluster) and the probability to remain childless

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hart, R.K. Union Histories of Dissolution: What Can They Say About Childlessness?. Eur J Population 35, 101–131 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-018-9464-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Childlessness
  • Sequence analysis
  • Union dissolution
  • Second demographic transition