The Determinants of Post-Divorce Relationship Trajectories. What Is the Role of Early Life Conditions, Intergenerational Transmission, Education & the Transition to Adulthood in Influencing the Post-Divorce Partnership Trajectories?

Hideko Matsuo, University of Leuven
Koen Matthys, Family and Population Studies, Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven
Sam Jenkinson, KU Leuven

Trends associated with the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) have resulted in increasing marital and family instability, with both increased divorce rates and a growing diversity in family forms and relationship trajectories. These trends have co-occurred with increased participation in higher education and the labour force by women and subsequently increasing and increased involvement within the home by men (Goldscheider 2015). Families increasingly experience complex living arrangements and partnership patterns, including periods of lone parenthood, as well as potentially multiple new partnerships and step parenthood. We assess determinants of these different post-divorce relationship trajectories, using sequence analysis to create typologies of post-divorce relationship dynamics and then regression analysis to examine the causes of these different typologies taking into account education, early life conditions and the timing and way of leaving the parental home, e.g cohabitation or marriage. This allows us to examine the dynamics of inter-generational transmission of relationship behaviour.

We use the “Divorce in Flanders survey” (Pasteels, et al., 2011) which includes detailed retrospective partnership histories, with up to 10 post-divorce relationships records. Our preliminary results show three distinct relationship trajectories after divorce; those who remain single for long periods of time, those with multiple relationships and those with more stable re-partnerships. We aim to provide evidence of inter-generational transmission of divorce and relationship patterns (parent-child) and post-divorce relationship trajectories. Furthermore, we aim to illustrate the specifics of inter-generational transmission behaviour, through examining the effects of age of leaving home, age and incidence of parental relationship instability and education.


Theme: Families and Households

Topics; Lone Parenthood, Gender, Education, Partnership Trajectories, Divorce, Re-Partnership

Introduction;

Trends associated with the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) have resulted in increasing marital and family instability, with both increased divorce rates and a growing diversity in family forms and relationship trajectories. These trends have co-occurred with increased participation in higher education and the labour force by women and increasing and increased involvement within the home by men (Goldscheider 2015). Families increasingly experience complex living arrangements and partnership patterns, including periods of lone parenthood, as well as potentially multiple new partnerships and step parenthood. We assess determinants of these different post-divorce relationship trajectories, using sequence analysis to create typologies of post-divorce relationship dynamics and then regression analysis to examine the causes of these different typologies taking into account education, early life conditions and the timing and way of leaving the parental home to examine the dynamics of intergeneration transmission of relationship behaviour.

Both Education and parental education, have been shown in the US to be highly important determinants of the changing patterns of relationship stability across the life course (Mclanahan, 2004; Mclanagan & Percheski, 2008). It has been observed that distinct patterns of family behaviour are emerging for many women, which deviate starkly in relation to education. Women with greater levels of education are increasingly delaying marriage, fertility and increasing labour force participation (Cherlin, 2014; Cherlin, 2008; McLanahan, 1996; McLanahan & Percheski, 2008; Mclanahan, 2004; Mclanahan, 2009). These women also on the whole experience greater levels of family stability and overall wellbeing, potentially through taking longer to settle down and being more economically stable when doing so. In contrast to this, women with lower levels of education are experiencing greater levels of family turbulence and more unstable relationship dynamics.

As well as education, many of the factors which differentiate these women relate to the different early life conditions and transitions to adulthood which they have experienced; this includes both experience of own parental relationship instability, absence of entry to higher education and earlier first union, age of leaving the home and earlier fertility.

Research Questions:

  1. How do early life conditions such as parental education and parental relationship instability, affect later life post-divorce relationship trajectories looking at the incidence timing and number or re-partnerships?
  1. How do the timing of leaving the home, age of first birth and incidence of cohabitation affect later life post-divorce relationship trajectories?
  1. How does higher education influence post-divorce relationship trajectories?

Data

The primary dataset is “Divorce in Flanders survey” (Pasteels, et al., 2011) which includes detailed retrospective partnership histories, with up to 10 post-divorce relationships records. This survey is a unique intergenerational dataset drawn from the Belgian national register with a distinctive multi-actor multi-method design. The sample contains information on Belgian nationals residing in the Flemish region that were married between January 1st, 1971 and December 31st, 2008 (n = 6470). The sample therefore is disproportionately stratified with regards to marriage, 1/3 still married 2/3 divorced, but proportionately with regards to year of marriage.

Method

Sequence analysis is used to create relationship typologies following divorce, including those with i. multiple and repeated relationships following divorce, ii. those who re-partner and iii. remain stable I.e fewer relationships and for longer periods and the 1/3 of the sample who remain single 7 years after divorce.

Following the sequence analysis, regression analysis is carried out to assess the following determinants of different post-divorce relationship trajectories.

  • Role of higher education
  • Age of leaving the home
  • Age of first union and type e.g cohabitation
  • Incidence and age of parental instability
  • Age of first birth
  • Parental education
  • Time components Period & cohort?

Expected Results

Our preliminary results show three distinct relationship trajectories after divorce; those who remain single for long periods of time, those with multiple relationships and those with more stable re-partnerships. We aim to provide evidence of intergenerational transmission of divorce and relationship patterns (parent-child) and post-divorce relationship trajectories. Furthermore, we aim to illustrate the specifics of intergenerational transmission behaviour, through examining the effects of age of leaving home, age and incidence of parental relationship instability and education.

Presented in Session 1111: Families and Households