Men's partnership formation and first birth in Europe: the effect of education

Alessandra Trimarchi, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Università di Roma "La Sapienza"
Jan Van Bavel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

This study examines the effect of education on men’s first birth and first union formation, focusing on the interplay between the two processes. In contrast to earlier studies, we focus on men. Studies applying a couple’s perspective to analyze fertility often disregard the process of mate selection. As a result, they do not consider possible selection processes (including assortative mating) occurring at the time of union formation. Using GGS data of 10 countries, and by means of event history analysis, we quantify the effect of education on men’s first birth, taking into account the effect of union status. In line with findings in previous studies about women, we assume that the process of union formation is inherently linked to the transition to parenthood for men as well. In order to account for the endogeneity of the two processes, then, we also model jointly the transition to fatherhood and first union formation by means of multi-process hazard modelling. In general, results show that the effect of male characteristics, notably education, affect fertility through the mate selection process. Once controlling for the effect of partnership status and, if available, the level of education of the female partner, the effect of education on transition to fatherhood loses part of its predictive power. All in all, this study points out that future research needs to address the possible selection effects into union, especially in order to assess the relative role of partners’ socioeconomic resources on fertility at a micro-level.

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Presented in Session 19: Gender dynamics and fertility