The educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation in Europe
Population and Development Review, 36:4, 775–801 (2010)
Nearly every European country has experienced some increase in nonmarital childbearing, largely due to increasing births within cohabitation. Relatively few studies in Europe, however, investigate the educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation or how it changed over time. Using retrospective union and fertility histories, we employ competing risk hazard models to examine the educational gradient of childbearing in cohabitation in 8 countries across Europe. In all countries studied, birth risks within cohabitation demonstrated a negative educational gradient. When directly comparing cohabiting fertility with marital fertility, the negative educational gradient persists in all countries except Italy, although differences were not significant in Austria, France, and Germany. To explain these findings, we present an alternative explanation for the increase in childbearing within cohabitation that goes beyond the explanation of the Second Demographic Transition and provides a new interpretation of the underlying mechanisms that may influence childbearing within cohabitation.
Keywords: Europe, childbearing, cohabitation, family formation, fertility, UN, unmarried mothers