Volume 33 - Article 44 | Pages 1241–1256  

Are there gender differences in family trajectories by education in Finland?

By Marika Jalovaara, Anette Fasang


Background: Previous studies suggest that in some countries socioeconomic differences in family formation are highly gendered, whereas gender-neutral patterns are reported in other countries. Most previous studies focus on single events and therefore it is unclear how the gender differences and neutralities in family transitions combine into variation in longer family-formation trajectories.

Objective: We explore how family trajectories vary by educational attainment and gender. The research asks whether there are gender differences in family trajectories by education. We focus on the trajectories of women and men in Finland between the ages of 18 and 39, and on the 1969 and 1970 birth cohorts. The trajectories consist of states entered via the formation and dissolution of cohabitation and marriage and the birth of the first child.

Methods: We give a sequence representation of Finnish register data comprising monthly histories of union dynamics and childbearing. We focus on the number and order of family states.

Results: We find notable differences in family trajectories by educational attainment; however, the gender differences in the trajectories within educational groups are negligible. For instance, the proportion of never-partnered and childless at age 39 is largest among those with low education, regardless of gender. Further, at age 39, highly educated women and men are most likely to live in the same union in which they became first-time parents.

Contribution: This study adds to previous literature by showing that in an egalitarian Nordic welfare state, longitudinal family-formation trajectories are highly stratified by education but remarkably gender-neutral.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

From never partnered to serial cohabitors: Union trajectories to childlessness
Volume 36 - Article 55

A register-based account of period trends in union prevalence, entries, and exits by educational level for men and women in Finland
Volume 48 - Article 14

Gender division of housework during the COVID-19 pandemic: Temporary shocks or durable change?
Volume 45 - Article 43

The complexity of employment and family life courses across 20th century Europe: More evidence for larger cross-national differences but little change across 1916‒1966 birth cohorts
Volume 44 - Article 32

Homeownership after separation: A longitudinal analysis of Finnish register data
Volume 41 - Article 29

Pathways to death: The co-occurrence of physical and mental health in the last years of life
Volume 38 - Article 53

Social policies, separation, and second birth spacing in Western Europe
Volume 37 - Article 37

Homogamy in socio-economic background and education, and the dissolution of cohabiting unions
Volume 30 - Article 65

Does his paycheck also matter?: The socioeconomic resources of co-residential partners and entry into parenthood in Finland
Volume 28 - Article 31

Recent fertility patterns of Finnish women by union status: A descriptive account
Volume 28 - Article 14

A review of the antecedents of union dissolution
Volume 23 - Article 10

Socioeconomic differentials in divorce risk by duration of marriage
Volume 7 - Article 16

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