Volume 35 - Article 24 | Pages 671–710  

Ethnic differences in family trajectories of young adult women in the Netherlands: Timing and sequencing of events

By Tom Kleinepier, Helga de Valk


Background: Despite extensive research on the family behavior of young adults, family dynamics of children of migrants remain largely unexplored. This is unfortunate as family transitions are strongly interlinked with transitions in other domains (e.g., education, work) and predictive for outcomes later in life.

Objective: We provide a comprehensive insight into ethnic differences in family behavior of young adults, focusing on Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, and Antillean second-generation women and native Dutch women. Moreover, we assess the importance of mixed parentage for family behavior.

Methods: Using rich administrative micro data, we apply sequence analysis and follow an entire birth cohort of second-generation women and a native Dutch comparison group from age 16 to 30. Logistic regression analyses are carried out to examine ethnic differences in the prevalence of different family trajectories.

Results: We found more between-person diversity in family behavior among second-generation women than among native Dutch women, particularly during the early twenties. Turkish and Moroccan women were found to start family formation relatively early in the life course, although many had left the parental home to live alone independently. Family trajectories of Surinamese and Antillean women were characterized by unmarried cohabitation and single motherhood. Native Dutch women generally opted for premarital cohabitation and postponed marriage and childbearing. Children from mixed couples behaved more like the majority population.

Contribution: We cover multiple family events simultaneously by following women of diverse origin for 15 years through young adulthood. Additionally, we study differences between children of two foreign-born parents and children of mixed couples.

Author's Affiliation

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