The development of non-marital fertility in Europe - unstable labor markets, female employment or decline in normative backing of marriage?

Alexander Mack, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

This study seeks to explain increases in non-marital fertility in Europe over the last decades within a comparative framework. Panel regression analysis is conducted on the basis of a macro level dataset containing economic, demographic and aggregated attitudinal data for 26 European countries from 1980 onward. Three key hypotheses are tested: The independence hypothesis assumes that women’s increasing financial independence has made the male breadwinner model a less desirable division of labor and has decreased the attractiveness of marriage. The insecurity hypothesis assumes that planning insecurity caused by volatile labor markets has lead parents to avoid the long-term investment in marriage in favor of alternate family forms. The normative backing of marriage hypothesis assumes that declining social support for the institution of marriage has reduced the stigma of non-marital birth thus reducing the costs of parents who choose not to marry.

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Presented in Session 25: Prospects of fertility determinants worldwide