On the Link between Gender-Roles Attitudes and Less Common Union Types

Alessandra Trimarchi, University of Leuven
Jan Van Bavel, University of Leuven

In this paper we explore the connection between gender-egalitarian attitudes and partner-selection processes. Partner-selection processes of single men and women may already involve expectations about family goals, e.g. fertility. Similar fertility goals between partners may be the indirect result of mating markets divided along characteristics such as age and education. Typically, couples tend to be mostly formed by partners where the man is older than the woman, and where the man is at least as educated as the woman. These partnerships are conventionally considered more stable and more fertile. Recent theoretical approaches have emphasized the role of gender-egalitarian attitudes in decreasing union instability and increasing couples’ fertility rates. Such attitudes may already play a role when people choose their mates, but there is hardly research about this so far. Existing studies that address gender attitudes focus mainly on its role in explaining union stability and fertility after unions have been formed. In this paper, we investigate how gender-roles attitudes are linked to mate choice. Next, we ask whether the association between gender-roles attitudes and partner selection is linked to attitudes toward family behavior (e.g. marriage, cohabitation, divorce and parenthood). We apply multinomial logistic regression to Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) data of Austria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia and Hungary. We select single men and women in wave 1 and we analyze their union formation patterns in wave 2. Preliminary results suggest that egalitarian men are more likely to form less conventional unions rather than remaining single. Findings for women are a bit different. Egalitarian women are less likely than other women to be in a union where the woman is more educated than the man. Additionally, the former are also more likely to enter in unions where partners have a similar age.

Presented in Session 121: Union Formation