Book Chapter

Childbearing in stepfamilies: how parity matters

Thomson, E., Hoem, J. M., Vikat, A., Prskawetz, A., Buber, I., Toulemon, L., Henz, U., Godecker, A. L., Kantorová, V.
In: Corijn, M., Klijzing, E. (Eds.): Dynamics of fertility and partnership in Europe: insights and lessons from comparative research, vol. 2, 87–99
New York ; Geneva, United Nations (2002)


We investigate potential effects of stepfamily status on births in unions in Austria, Finland, France, and West Germany. In all four countries, we find support for the value of a first union birth to signal the couple’s commitment. Birth rates are higher if the couple has no shared children, net of their total (hers + his) parity. Unexpectedly, couples in which one of the partners is not a parent had lower birth risks than those in which both partners brought children to their union, contrary to the value of a first birth to establish parental status. We also find support for the value of a second shared birth to provide a full sibling. Net of their combined parity, stepfamily couples with one shared child had a higher risk than families without stepchildren of having a second shared birth. Some of these results were not consistent in analyses of men’s reports, in part due to the smaller male samples and, possibly, to the poorer reports of men about their children from previous unions.
Keywords: Austria, Europe, Finland, France, Germany (Alte Bundesländer), birth order, childbearing, family forms, fertility surveys, parity
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.