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Couples and childbearing: new approaches to the study of fertility outcomes and family formation across Europe


In order to understand childbearing behavior, it seems intuitively important to include partnership formation and the characteristics, behavior and interactions of both partners into the scholarly analyses of fertility. The empirical literature in this field, however, has so far overwhelmingly studied fertility outcomes from the perspective of the woman only (for example: how does her education affect her childbearing behavior and vice versa). Only very recently have studies integrated the (male) partner and couple-dynamics into models of childbearing behavior, and this 'couple perspective approach' is now an up-and coming area in social demography. A few pioneering studies have been published on the topic so far, but many open questions in the literature remain. Among them are the question of 1) how her and his educational attainment and employment behavior interact with each other in relating to childbearing behavior in many European nations not yet studied from a couple perspective, 2) if these relative resources may play a crucial role for partnership formation and union stability, and in turn be significant for childbearing behavior through selecting which couples find and remain together only 3) and how such couple dynamics may depend upon the surrounding social structure and greater gender equality in the society in relating to fertility outcomes and union stability. The proposed project aims at tackling all of these questions. Besides using state-of the art event history modeling and multi-level models, it will use cutting-edge structural equation methodology for event history data in order to integrate the complex social process of union formation and childbearing behavior in couples into one model. This will allow for a deeper and more detailed understanding of family formation and fertility outcomes in Europe, and not only greatly advance the field substantively but also make a significant contribution to the methodological advancement of the field.

Call for proposal

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Dr. Ignaz Seipel-platz 2
1010 Wien

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Tomas Sobotka (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 186 783,60