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The Couple Dimension of Economic Precariousness (Dissertation)

Lydia Veronica Palumbo, Ann Berrington (University of Southampton, Großbritannien), Agnese Vitali (University of Southampton, Großbritannien), Mikko Myrskylä, Sebastian Klüsener (Federal Institute for Population Research, Wiesbaden, Deutschland), Mathias Lerch

Ausführliche Beschreibung

The relationship between the availability of economic resources and demographic outcomes has attracted increased attention in recent years due to rising economic uncertainty affecting individuals. This is partly due to the “Great Recession”, the relatively recent economic crisis that started in 2007. The recession still today has repercussions for the economies of several countries. The period of economic hardship mainly affected young adults by boosting their economic and occupational vulnerability and delaying their steps toward adulthood.

The goal of this project is to analyze through a long-term perspective how economic precariousness among young individuals has affected the types and outcomes of their first unions (cohabitation, marriage, and dissolution) over the last 30 years. The focus is on two countries that have seen increases in economic uncertainty among the youth but differ in their institutions and labor-market structures: Italy and Great Britain. The study aims to develop a new theoretical framework for the analysis of economic precariousness, which is multidimensional and considers both objective and subjective indicators. The current literature generally focuses on selected aspects of economic precariousness and neglects the subjective sphere of the individual, which is after all a fundamental aspect to consider. Since these gaps in research characterize the literature cross-nationally, the multidimensional approach to economic precariousness would be beneficial and applicable to other contexts, too, e.g., countries with a Northern or Continental regime.

This thesis analyzes economic precariousness at both the individual and couple level. The need to consider the couple stems from the evidence that a change in union status is the result of a bargaining and interactive process between two individuals who can be influenced in their decision by the context in which they live and the external relationships they have (among other factors). We also consider sources of heterogeneity that could make individuals or couples vulnerable to economic precariousness; these are e.g., age subgroups, gender, education and historical time. The latter is key to the analyses on Italy as the thesis sheds light on the potential consequences of the "Great Recession" on the country's family behaviors. So far, the evidence on the recession, which has had long-term consequences on the country's economy, has been very limited. 

As to the UK, the empirical analysis is based on rich prospective data from the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society. As to Italy, the project uses data from the Family and Social Subjects Survey collected in 2016, which reports the employment and partnership histories of male and female interviewees. So far, the analyses were based on British data, using discrete-time event history analyses. Results show that Britons in less precarious economic situations enter their first coresidential partnership later than do those with more precarious ones, with no differences by gender or historical period. Moreover, British cohabiting couples in which neither partner is in a precarious economic position are most likely to marry, and the objective economic precarity of men is a stronger barrier to marriage than that of women. Regarding subjective measures, the objective precariousness of men is a concern for females, too, and could facilitate partnership dissolution.


Geburtenentwicklung, Wirtschaft, Erwerbstätigkeit, Ruhestand

Schlagworte (Region):

Deutschland, Großbritannien

Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.