Volume 7 - Article 18 | Pages 593–624

Cohabiting unions in France and West Germany: Transitions to first birth and first marriage

By Jean-Marie Le Goff

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Date received:27 Aug 2002
Date published:17 Dec 2002
Word count:7116
Keywords:cohabitation, event history analysis, family policy, fertility, France, Germany, marriage


This paper compares the non-marital birth pattern in France and West Germany. Since the beginning of the eighties, France witnessed a steady increase in non-marital birth rates, while in West Germany non-marital birth rates have remained at a relatively low level. We attribute these differences to the institutional and legal constraints from both sides of the Rhine which hamper or foster childbearing in cohabiting unions.
Using data from the French and German Family and Fertility Survey, we apply event history modeling to the transition to marriage and first birth. Our results indicate a polarization of family forms in both countries. In West Germany, we find a polarization in a "family sector" and a "non-family sector" while in France there is a polarization in a "marriage sector" and a "cohabiting sector".

Author's Affiliation

Jean-Marie Le Goff - Université de Lausanne, Switzerland [Email]

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