Social Background and Risky Demographic Behaviour. a Cross-National Analysis of the Role of Parental Education, Growing up without Both Parents and Sibling Size

Aart Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW)

Some demographic behaviours (e.g. teenage parenthood, teenage partnering, having a child outside a partner relationship, separation) are risky, as they may have negative consequences for future well-being. The odds of experiencing such behaviours depends on one’s family of origin. Young people from families that lack economic resources are at an increased risk of experiencing such events. The same is true for young people who grow up in a non-intact family. However, the extent to which parental background influences risky demographic behaviour may depend on the societal context. I expect that the influence of parental SES and the number of siblings is weaker in societal contexts that facilitate human agency, as such contexts buffer the lack of resources. At the same time, the influence of growing up in a non-intact family may be stronger in such contexts, as young people who have experienced parental break-up may hold more favourable attitudes towards non-traditional family behaviours and societal contexts that facilitate human agency offer better opportunities to act in accordance with such attitudes. I use data from Generation and Gender Surveys conducted in 15 countries and meta-analysis and meta-regression to examine this issue. Generally, parental SES, number of siblings and growing up in a non-intact family all increase the likelihood of experiencing risky demographic behaviours. However, in contexts that offer good opportunities for human agency (as indicated by the HDI score of a country), the positive effect of parental SES and number of siblings on risky is weaker, suggesting that the lack of resources is buffered in countries that offer good opportunities for human agency. At the same time, the consequences of not growing up with both parents on union dissolution and having a child outside a partner relationship is stronger in high HDI countries.

Presented in Session 97: Childhood Experiences, Parental Investment and Intergenerational Mobility

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