, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 119–144 | Cite as

Education and the Transition to Fatherhood: The Role of Selection Into Union

  • Alessandra TrimarchiEmail author
  • Jan Van Bavel


Although advanced education has been found to be consistently associated with a later transition to parenthood for women, findings about education and the transition to parenthood have been much less consistent for men, and no stylized fact has emerged from the literature. We argue that the inconsistency of findings for men is due to the fact that the selection process involved in union formation has been disregarded in earlier studies. We hypothesize that men’s educational attainment consistently and positively affects the transition to fatherhood via higher rates of union formation. We apply multiprocess event-history analysis to data from the Generations and Gender Surveys for 10 European countries. Our results show indeed a consistent positive effect of education on the transition to fatherhood, but it operates chiefly through selection into union. Failing to account for this selection process leads to a major underestimation of the salience of education for the transition to fatherhood.


Fatherhood Union formation Education Selection 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 312290 for the GENDERBALL project.

Supplementary material

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© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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