Growing up in the Netherlands (cohorts 1979-2011): Increasing Class Differences in Stability and Complexity?

Ruben van Gaalen, University of Amsterdam

In Western societies unmarried cohabitation, childbirth out of wedlock and parental divorce have become more prevalent among the lower class than the higher class, this might increase the inequality between the offspring of different social strata (Amato, Booth, McHale, & Van Hook, 2015; McLanahan, 2004). Because unmarried cohabitation and parental divorce on average has adverse consequences for children (Amato, 2010), the increased risk among lower educated parents of experiencing these events poses their children at a disadvantage. On the other hand, higher educated seem to re-invent marriage and relationship stability. In general, family stability might become the new privilege of the higher class, whereas family complexity might become more common within the lower class. In this paper, we give an overview of the major demographic changes that have occurred in households with children in the past decades, from the perspective of the child and by the social class of the parents. We will depict the educational gradient in the prevalence of unmarried parenthood, divorce and separation, step-parenthood and step-siblings. Data is retrieved from the System of Social statistical Datasets (SSD) of Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The SSD is an integrated, longitudinal database of numerous registers and surveys, containing the most important socioeconomic and socio-demographic variables – checked on consistency – of the complete population of the Netherlands (Bakker, van Rooijen en Van Toor, 2014). All parents and children can be linked via the Dutch Population Register (GBA), the backbone of the SSD. We use data on all children born in 1979-1981, 1989-1991, 1999-2001 and 2009-2011.

Presented in Session 102: Families and Social Stratification