Volume 37 - Article 8 | Pages 189–228

Cross-national differences in women's repartnering behaviour in Europe: The role of individual demographic characteristics

By Paulina Gałęzewska, Brienna Perelli-Harris, Ann Berrington

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Date received:27 Jan 2016
Date published:27 Jul 2017
Word count:8652
Keywords:cohabitation, Europe, marriage, repartnering, union dissolution
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2017.37.8
 

Abstract

Background: With rising union instability across Europe, more individuals now re-enter the partner market and eventually repartner. The increase in cohabitation may also be influencing repartnering behaviour. While several studies examine individual-level characteristics related to repartnering, few take a broader view and compare repartnering levels or explore how demographic characteristics associated with repartnering differ across Europe.

Objective: We describe levels of repartnering and the characteristics of those exposed to repartnering in 11 European countries. We then examine whether the relationship between women’s demographic characteristics at union dissolution and repartnering are similar or different across countries. Given the recent increase in cohabitation, we pay particular attention to prior cohabitation and marriage, but we also compare age at first union dissolution, first union duration, and presence of children.

Methods: Using the Harmonized Histories database, we apply discrete-time hazard models separately by country and to pooled cross-national data.

Results: Despite large differences in levels of repartnering, in most countries we find similar associations between demographic characteristics and repartnering. First union type did not matter after controlling for age and children, except in France, where those who previously cohabited had significantly lower risks of repartnering. Age at union dissolution and presence of children are negatively associated with repartnering in almost all countries.

Conclusions: Although cohabitation has increased everywhere, prior experience of a coresidential partnership outside of formal marriage makes little difference to repartnering behaviour after controls (except in France). However, regardless of country, older women and/or mothers are less likely to form second unions.

Contribution: This study contributes to previous research by examining whether the effects of women’s demographic characteristics on repartnering are universal across 11 European countries and to what extent the differences in age and fertility at separation and first union type help explain the cross-national variation in repartnering in Europe.

Author's Affiliation

Paulina Gałęzewska - University of Southampton, United Kingdom [Email]
Brienna Perelli-Harris - University of Southampton, United Kingdom [Email]
Ann Berrington - University of Southampton, United Kingdom [Email]

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