Journal Article

Uncertain steps into adulthood: does economic precariousness hinder entry into the first co-residential partnership in the UK?

Palumbo, L. V., Berrington, A., Eibich, P., Vitali, A.
Population Studies, 77:2, 263–289 (2023)
Open Access


This study uses prospective data spanning 27 years (1991–2018) to explore the relationship between economic precariousness and transitions to first co-residential partnership among Britons aged 18–34 across three dimensions: age, historical time, and sex. Economic precariousness is measured using eight objective and subjective indicators, including income, employment, housing, and financial perceptions. Our results show that economic precariousness has a strong negative relationship with entering the first co-residential partnership among those aged 20–30, but the pattern is less clear among the youngest and oldest. Objective measures are easier to interpret than subjective measures. Historical analyses suggest that not being employed decreases the probability of union formation more in recessionary periods than in non-recessionary ones. Among working women, low labour income started to be a predictor of union formation in the most recent periods. Labour income is the only indicator presenting trends in line with our hypotheses across all dimensions.

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.