MPIDR Working Paper

Pathways of family change: a typology of multipartnered fertility life courses in five Northern European countries

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2024-005, 25 pages.
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (März 2024)
Open Access


This study investigates the heterogeneity of multipartnered fertility (MPF) trajectories in the Northern European context, where transformations in family formation patterns and in the partnership context of childbearing, together with high social acceptance for new family behaviours, result in a large degree of family life course differentiation. Applying sequence and cluster analyses to high-quality partnership and fertility histories of men and women who experience MPF from the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Estonian, and Finnish Generations and Gender Survey Round II collected between 2020 and 2022, we provide a timely description of how MPF trajectories unfold, and identify a typology of these family life courses. Our findings reveal that in the five countries, various trajectories of MPF co-exist that differ substantially in terms of the order and timing of union formation and dissolution, and the partnership context of births. Furthermore, we investigate gender and socioeconomic inequalities, and reflect on the potential vulnerabilities nested within MPF life courses and the additional layer of disadvantage that childbearing can represent for mothers vis-à-vis fathers in the context of family complexity.

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.