WIP: How Does Cohabitation Fit into the Family Life Course? Ideals and norms in Europe

Title: How Does Cohabitation Fit into the Family Life Course? Ideals and norms in Europe
Authors: Jennifer A. Holland and Helga de Valk
Abstract: Whether life courses are shaped by social norms or are primarily governed by individual preferences is a matter of debate. In this paper we investigate whether non-marital cohabitation norms structure individuals’ understanding of how cohabitation fits into the ideal family life course. Using data from the European Social Survey (Round 3, 2006/07), we build a typology cohabitation across 23 survey countries. Then, using multi-level modeling techniques, we explore how normative contexts may condition an individual’s propensity to offer non-numeric responses to a question about the ideal age for cohabitation (i.e. ‘there is no ideal age’ or ‘never’ versus a numeric response), actual ideal ages for cohabitation, and the relative ideal timing of marriage and cohabitation. Results highlight the importance of gender, education and normative ‘permissiveness’ in conditioning perceptions of the ideal timing of cohabitation. Additionally, results suggest the emergence of positive norms for cohabitation within some contexts.

Population Association of America Annual Meetings, San Diego, CA, USA (2015)
British Society for Population Studies Annual Meeting, Winchester, UK (2014)


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