Volume 47 - Article 25 | Pages 777–792  

Changing mind, changing plans? Instability of individual gender attitudes and postponement of marriage in Germany

By Daniele Florean


Background: Numerous studies address the relationship between gender attitudes and family formation, especially the attitudes–fertility connection. To date, little attention has been paid to the longitudinal dynamics of these attitudes, in particular the stability of attitudes over time, and the impact of their stability on marriage.

Objective: To investigate how stable or unstable gender attitudes are related to the timing of first transitions to marriage in Germany.

Methods: Using event history analysis and data from the PAIRFAM survey, I compare the first transition to marriage in a sample of men and women born between 1981 and 1983 and living in Germany. I generate an index to estimate the stability of gender attitudes over time across a set of four indicators, and use it as the main independent variable to estimate how attitude stability is related to the timing of marriage.

Results: Respondents who report frequent changes in gender attitudes enter marriage systematically later than respondents whose attitudes are stable. However, this relationship is weaker for respondents who express more liberal attitudes.

Contribution: The findings highlight the importance of a longitudinal approach to the study of gender attitudes and their relationship to life-course events, showing how the stability of attitudes relates to the timing of family formation.

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