Marriage and cohabitation in western Germany and France
XVI, 299 pages. Rostock, Universität Rostock (2011)
The aim of this work is to study the pattern of first union formation of western German and French women by describing and evaluating the most important factors and settings that determine possible differences between both countries. Even though marriage, cohabitation and childbearing have undergone massive changes in both countries, striking differences remain. The empirical analysis of this work was carried out with methods of event history analysis, using the 2000 German “Familiensurvey” and the 1999 French “Étude de l’histoire familial”. I studied the effect of education, employment, pregnancy and childbearing, and some other individual characteristics on the transition to first marriage vs. non-marital cohabitation, as well as on the transformation of non-marital cohabitation into marriage. Special attention has been paid to the development over time. The process of modernization and individualization, indirectly characterized by the changing meaning and patterns of marriage and cohabitation, did not affect women in both countries in the same way. Though they show very similar patterns of union formation behavior, differences, in particular regarding the impact of childbearing on marriage formation but also regarding the effect of educational attainment and enrollment, remain. I conclude that this is because of the different institutional structures in both countries as well as the different cultural heritage.