MPIDR Working Paper
Dissolution of unions in Europe: a comparative overview
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2003-004, 19 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2003)
In this paper, we present a number of descriptive measures of couples’ experience of union dissolution in a wide range of European countries. We use data from the last round of Fertility and Family Surveys in order to get a broad cross-country comparison of levels and basic patterns of union disruption in countries considered. We use corresponding data from the USA in order to find out to what extent patterns in Europe differ from those at the other side of the Atlantic. With a number of life-table estimations we display levels of union dissolution of couples in different types of unions. Evidently, the picture looks different if one follows marriages from the date of marriage formation than if one follows any union from the date when a couple moves together. In addition, the stability of unions that start as cohabitation differs from the stability of unions that begin with a direct marriage. Our presentation reveals that unions in any European country are much more stable than unions in the US. The latter country stands out as an extreme case no matter what type of union we choose to study. Nevertheless, a high degree of variation also exists within Europe; a number of Catholic countries in Southern and Eastern Europe impress with particularly low levels of union dissolution.
Keywords: Europe, family dynamics