Volume 19 - Article 6 | Pages 85–138  

Overview Chapter 4: Changing family and partnership behaviour: Common trends and persistent diversity across Europe

By Tomáš Sobotka, Laurent Toulemon

This article is part of the Special Collection 7 "Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe"

Abstract

Following the era of the ‘golden age of marriage’ and the baby boom in the 1950s and 1960s, marriage has declined in importance, and its role as the main institution on which family relations are built has been eroded across Europe. Union formation most often takes place without a marriage. Family and living arrangements are currently heterogeneous across Europe, but all countries seem to be making the same shifts: towards fewer people living together as a couple, especially in marriage; an increased number of unmarried couples; more children born outside marriage; and fewer children living with their two parents. The relationship between these changing living arrangements, especially the decline of marriage, on the one hand, and the overall level of fertility, on the other, is not straightforward. In most countries, marriage rates and fertility declined simultaneously. However, the aggregate relationship between marriage and fertility indices has moved from negative (fewer marriages imply fewer births) to positive (fewer marriages imply more births). Thus, the decline of marriage, which is a part of the second demographic transition (see Overview Chapter 6), cannot be considered an important cause of the current low fertility level in many European countries. On the contrary, in European countries where the decline of marriage has been less pronounced, fertility levels are currently lower than in countries where new living arrangements have become most common.

Author's Affiliation

  • Tomáš Sobotka - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria EMAIL
  • Laurent Toulemon - Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), France EMAIL

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Summary and general conclusions: Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe
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Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
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Cohort fertility decline in low fertility countries: Decomposition using parity progression ratios
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Ultra-low fertility in South Korea: The role of the tempo effect
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Differences in leaving home by individual and parental education among young adults in Europe
Volume 37 - Article 63

Should governments in Europe be more aggressive in pushing for gender equality to raise fertility? The first "YES"
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Multi-residence in France and Australia: Why count them? What is at stake? Double counting and actual family situations
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France: High and stable fertility
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Czech Republic: A rapid transformation of fertility and family behaviour after the collapse of state socialism
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Austria: Persistent low fertility since the mid-1980s
Volume 19 - Article 12

Overview Chapter 7: The rising importance of migrants for childbearing in Europe
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Overview Chapter 6: The diverse faces of the Second Demographic Transition in Europe
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Overview Chapter 1: Fertility in Europe: Diverse, delayed and below replacement
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Tempo-quantum and period-cohort interplay in fertility changes in Europe: Evidence from the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden
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