Volume 37 - Article 51 | Pages 1659–1694 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

Stepfather or biological father? Education-specific pathways of postdivorce fatherhood

By Christine Schnor, Sofie Vanassche, Jan Van Bavel

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:24 Jan 2017
Date published:30 Nov 2017
Word count:6670
Keywords:custody arrangements, divorce, fatherhood, postdivorce family configurations, stepfamily
Additional files:readme.37-51 (text file, 514 Byte)
 demographic-research.37-51 (zip file, 1 MB)
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection on the new roles of women and men and implications for families and societies.


Background: Men are commonly assigned the role of economic providers in the family, and education informs about their capacity to fulfil this role. Yet having biological ties to coresident children can determine the man’s willingness to step into the provider role. This study investigates how education is linked to fatherhood after divorce, distinguishing between biological father and stepfather positions.

Methods: We analysed life course data from 1,111 divorced Belgian men collected in the ‘Divorce in Flanders’ project. We used descriptive methods of sequence analysis to illustrate the pathways of postdivorce fatherhood. In multinomial logistic regressions, we estimated the likelihood of, firstly, being a father with coresident biological children or/and stepchildren and, secondly, repartnering with a mother and fathering children in this union.

Results: Divorced men’s family situation depend on their educational levels. More educated men are more often in the role of a resident biological father, whereas the less educated men are more often stepfathers. Men’s resident arrangement for first-marriage children, their selection into a new union and the parental status of their new partner help explaining educational differences in post-divorce father positions. Highly educated men live more often with their children from first marriage and repartner more often and especially women without own coresident children, which is beneficial for their transition to a post-divorce birth.

Contribution: The findings suggest that both capacity and willingness to support the postdivorce family are lower among the less educated. These education-specific pathways of postdivorce fatherhood are likely to enhance social inequalities.

Author's Affiliation

Christine Schnor - Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium [Email]
Sofie Vanassche - Arteveldehogeschool, Belgium [Email]
Jan Van Bavel - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Do tenants suffer from status syndrome? Homeownership, norms, and suicide in Belgium
Volume 46 - Article 16

» Who moves out and who keeps the home? Short-term and medium-term mobility consequences of grey divorce in Belgium
Volume 45 - Article 9

» Remain, leave, or return? Mothers’ location continuity after separation in Belgium
Volume 42 - Article 9

» Gender differences and similarities in the educational gradient in fertility: The role of earnings potential and gender composition in study disciplines
Volume 39 - Article 13

» Fertility among descendants of immigrants in Belgium: The role of the partner
Volume 36 - Article 60

» Does waiting pay off for couples? Partnership duration prior to household formation and union stability
Volume 33 - Article 22

» The mid-twentieth century Baby Boom and the changing educational gradient in Belgian cohort fertility
Volume 30 - Article 33

» Estimating the contribution of mothers of foreign origin to total fertility: The recent recovery of period fertility in the Belgian region of Flanders
Volume 30 - Article 12

» Regional family cultures and child care by grandparents in Europe
Volume 27 - Article 4

» Social mobility and demographic behaviour: Long term perspectives
Volume 26 - Article 8

» Family size and intergenerational social mobility during the fertility transition: Evidence of resource dilution from the city of Antwerp in nineteenth century Belgium
Volume 24 - Article 14

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Post-divorce custody arrangements and binuclear family structures of Flemish adolescents
Volume 28 - Article 15    | Keywords: custody arrangements, postdivorce family configurations, stepfamily

» ‘Will the one who keeps the children keep the house?’ Residential mobility after divorce by parenthood status and custody arrangements in France
Volume 40 - Article 14    | Keywords: custody arrangements, divorce

» Introduction to the Special Collection on Separation, Divorce, Repartnering, and Remarriage around the World
Volume 37 - Article 38    | Keywords: divorce, stepfamily

» Gender and family stability: Dissolution of the first parental union in Sweden and Hungary
Volume 4 - Article 2    | Keywords: custody arrangements, divorce

» Introduction to the Special Collection on The new roles of women and men and implications for families and societies
Volume 48 - Article 29    | Keywords: divorce