Families & households strand abstracts

Economic change and family processes: Monday 9 September, 4.45pm

Economic precariousness and living arrangements among young adults in the UK
Peter Tammes, ESRC Centre for Population Change, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton; Steven Roberts, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent;  Ann Berrington, ESRC Centre for Population Change, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton

The housing and family transitions of young adults in the UK have been affected by increasing housing costs, economic uncertainty, labour market insecurity and reductions in welfare support in recent years. Although these changes affect all young adults’ residential and family pathways in the UK, those who are lower educated or have a low socio-economic status may be more vulnerable to this situation. We argue that more attention needs to be paid to young adults who do not attend (higher) education and who are in relatively low skilled and low wage jobs for some years. In the youth studies literature these young adults are sometimes considered as the ‘missing middle’ or ‘forgotten working poor’ since they do not fit in the usual profile of potential risk groups such as the unemployed, disabled, homeless, or the NEETS. This ‘missing middle’, however, might face a precarious situation with few prospects for job promotion or change, wage increase, and developing their skills and knowledge. Secondary analyses of the 2009/10 UK Household Longitudinal Survey is used to examine the extent to which the living arrangements and housing situation of the ‘missing middle’ differs from both more and less precarious groups of young adults. Our preliminary findings show that working men aged 22-34 with low earnings are less often married, and more likely to live with their parent(s) than those with higher earnings. In fact their situation is more similar to those with the lowest earnings..


Economic conditions and variation in first birth hazards in 22 European countries between 1970 and 2005
Jonas Wood, Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

Throughout the 20th century economic recessions raised interest on the effect of economic context on fertility. The recent economic recession starting in 2008 adds to the long-standing interest in the interaction between economic conditions and fertility trends. Most research supports a pro-cyclical effect, meaning that economic downturns entail postponement of motherhood, and effects of aggregate economic context on childbearing have found to differ by age- and educational group. However, existing contributions assessing the impact of macro-level economic conditions on childbearing often focus on OECD countries, hereby neglecting the Central and Eastern European countries. this paper aims to develop a broad European assessment of the relation between economic conditions and motherhood timing for 22 countries drawing on micro-level ESS (2006) data and Consumer price index as a macro-level economic indicator. Using multi-level discrete-time event history models and including error terms at the aggregate and individual level for unobservable characteristics we investigate the impact of individual and aggregate-level economic conditions on the transition to motherhood. We conclude that postponement of motherhood among women aged 15-29 is related to deteriorating economic conditions, and entry into the labour market is an important precursor of motherhood among the higher educated and in Western European countries whereas lower educated show to be less affected by unfavourable economic conditions at both the individual and the aggregate level. Turning to childbearing later in the life course, entry into the labour force does not seem relevant while unfavourable aggregate economic conditions continue to depress motherhood, especially in Southern Europe.


Economic context and first union formation: exploring the effect of economic downturn at the macro level (1970-2004) in five western-European countries
Jorik Vergauwen, Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

Authors have principally found a negative impact of economic recession and rising unemployment on family formation. Few papers have although directly addressed the effect macro-level economic conditions on union formation. With career maturity being hampered by adverse economic conditions, union formation hazards are nevertheless expected to decrease given the lack of financial and social long-term prospects. Hence, in this paper we consider the effect of aggregate-level economic context on entry into a first union and the type of this union (either unmarried cohabitation or marriage). Since marriage is mostly characterized by high commitment and extensive investments, a deferring impact of economic recession on first marriage is hypothesized. Adversely, non-marital cohabitation is often considered as a strategy to deal with economic uncertainty. The effect of economic downturn is therefore assumed to be smaller or positive for entry into unmarried cohabitation. We additionally investigate how these effects are differentiated in terms of educational attainment. The analyses use union histories for five western-European countries drawn from the Harmonized Histories. Multilevel discrete-time event-history and logistic regression models are used to assess the impact of economic context on timing and type of entry into first unions between 1970 and 2004 respectively. Harmonized unemployment rates provided by the OECD are included as macro-level indicators. Our results suggest that first union formation is hampered by economic downturn, particularly among the youngest ages. Some evidence additionally indicates that this effect is stronger for marriage compared to cohabitation We find the latter effect to be weaker for the highest educated.


Diverse family forms: Measurement and policy issues: Tuesday 10 September, 11.00am

Complex families and material hardship
Natasha V. Pilkauskas, Columbia University; Afshin Zilanawala, University College London

Demographic shifts in the US over the last half century, including increased non-marital childbearing, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, as well as delayed marriage, have resulted in increasingly complex family formations. In particular, the prevalence of adults having biological children with more than one partner, multi-partnered fertility (MPF), has risen. Estimates from an urban birth cohort found as many as 21% of married and 59% of unmarried parents had MPF. As a result of MPF, the complexity of the household (e.g. navigating visitation, financial support, parenting and childcare) has increased, and may make these households more economically vulnerable. Fathers may experience increased demands on financial resources from multiple families; mothers may have difficulty obtaining resources from fathers or may receive less support from extended families (cash or in-kind) leading to increased material hardship. Although prior literature has linked MPF with father’s reduced ability to provide economic support and mother’s reduced perceived support, no studies have investigated whether MPF is associated with material hardship, a consumption based indicator of economic wellbeing that measures ability to meet basic needs. We fill this gap in the literature by examining whether MPF is associated with material hardship (difficulty paying bills, housing insecurity, having utilities cut off, unmet medical needs, or food insecurity). Understanding this association is important, as hardship has been linked with poorer child outcomes. We study this question using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort study of nearly 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities.


Cohabiting families and their legal protection against moves into poverty: a comparison of 12 European countries
Nora Sánchez Gassen, Stockholm University; Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton

Cohabitation and childbearing within cohabitation in Europe have increased remarkably during the past decades. Some governments in Europe have reacted by changing previously marriage-centric laws in order to provide basic protection for cohabitants in case of death or union dissolution. Nonetheless, previous research has revealed that cohabitation is not consistently regulated in all countries. Remarkable differences in the legal treatment of marriage and cohabitation remain, both within countries and across countries (Perelli-Harris and Sánchez Gassen 2012). This has prompted some family researchers to argue that further reforms are necessary to reduce the legal vulnerability of cohabiting couples and their children (Barlow et al. 2005). The main goal of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the needs for future legislation by comparing cohabitation law and cohabitation behaviour in East and West European countries. Using a database of 15 policy areas for 12 countries, we first analyse whether and under which conditions cohabiting couples are covered in tax laws, inheritance laws, property laws etc. We then use European Social Survey data of 2010 to estimate how many couples live in cohabitation and to what extent these cohabiting unions are covered or fall outside the laws of their country. The central question this paper intends to answer is whether statistics indeed still ‘demand a legal response’ (Barlow et al. 2005) or whether previously marriage-centred laws have been changed to such a degree that they cover most cohabiting couples in Europe today.


Ecomomic and demographic change in India: challenging asumptions of family breakdown
Penny Vera-Santo, Birkbeck, University of London

This paper questions the widespread assumption that the values underlying the 'traditional' family in India are breaking down as well as assumptions about their economic and social consequences.  Examining family form and composition and networks in low income settlements in South India, and taking into account longitudinal research, the paper demonstrates that economic changes over the past 20 years as well as demographic shifts have had an impact on family relations and flows of labour and resources across multiple generations.  While at the bottom of the social hierarchy demographic transition is leading to narrow and less resilient family networks as well as narrow and less resilient domestic economies, this is not because of the breakdown of either 'traditional families', or 'traditional family values'


Gendered division of labour within families: Tuesday 10 September, 1.30pm

Flexible working and couples’ co-ordination of time schedules 
Almudena Sevilla, Queen Mary University of London; Mark L Bryan, University of Essex

This paper uses previously unexploited data on time scheduling in the household and employment contexts to investigate the effect of flexible working on couples’ coordination of their time schedules in the UK for the first time. This question is of paramount importance to policymakers considering the effects of extensions to flexible working, yet the economics literature provides relatively little theoretical and empirical evidence on it. The aim of the present work is to close this gap. We find that when the woman in the couple has the freedom to choose daily work times subject to a weekly total number of hours there is greater spouse synchronization in working times. All the action is being driven by couples with dependent children, who arguably value synchronization most. In contrast, when the man in the couple has flexitime at work it does not change the amount of spouse synchronization. Other measures of flexibility at work, such as annualized hours and having a sense of control over working hours do not seem to help spouses in synchronizing the time together.


Time availability, bargaining or doing gender? The domestic division of labour in China
Man Yee Kan, University of Oxford; Gloria Guangye He, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Xiaogang Wu, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

This paper analyses data of the Chinese Women’s Status Survey 2000, a national survey in China, to examine the determinants of housework participation of dual-earner couples. Findings show that the gendered pattern of associations between housework hours and relative family income in China is different from those in UK, US and other developed countries. Men’s and women’s total housework and cooking time follow the predictions of the time availability approach rather than those of the resource bargaining theory: the longer their work hours, the shorter the time they spent on cooking and total housework. However, their relative contribution to family income is not significantly associated with their time on cooking and total housework when work hours are taken into account. Relative income has significant associations only with some types of housework (e.g. cleaning time of urban men) and with rural women’s level of participation in domestic work relative to their partner’s. There is evidence to show that the ‘doing gender’ effect in housework is more prominent in rural area than in urban area, indicating that the gender ideology plays a more significant role in rural China. It is clear that husbands and wives are less likely to ‘do gender’ in routine daily housework (e.g., cooking) than in other forms of housework. Men have a tendency to ‘do gender’ in feminine types of household work (e.g., cleaning). However, time availability appears to be a dominant factor in determining the housework hours of men and women.


Work-life conflict in Britain: examining the role of family circumstances
Ursula Henz, London School of Economics

Changes in the structure and organization of paid work and women’s rising labour-market participation have put the inherent tensions between paid work and family life into the focus of social research. Various theoretical models have been formulated to describe how the conflicting demands of paid work and family life can lead to individual stress. This study draws on ‘border theory’ (Clark, 2000) to conceptualize the relationship between the two life domains. The paper will present analyses of family-to-work and work-to-family conflict (WFC) using the Working in Britain 2000 survey. Initial analyses of work-to-family conflict suggest complex relationships between family circumstances and WFC. It turns out useful to further distinguish two dimensions of WFC, namely time-based and strain-based conflict. Having a partner tends to be associated with higher levels of WFC, rejecting suggestions (Bianchi & Milkie 2010) that the presence of a partner may help an individual to more successfully negotiate the tensions generated by time based demands. The analyses further show that men whose wives worked few or no hours for pay experienced high levels of time-based WFC. Border theory can explain this pattern in terms of wives with few or no hours of paid work being strong defenders of the family border and refusing to accommodate their husbands’ needs of expanding their working hours. A strong relationship exists also between men’s increased level of strain-based WFC and their partner working full time, supporting the more common idea of a particularly strong time-squeeze experienced by these couples.


Family-Work Practices and Attitudes among Religious Groups in the United Kingdom
Nitzan Peri-Rotem, Nuffield cOllege, University of Oxford

Recent studies have documented the persistent relevance of religious adherence in explaining variation in family norms and behaviour. Individuals with higher religious involvement demonstrate relatively traditional family patterns, such as preference of marriage over cohabitation, lower divorce rates, and higher ideal and actual family size compared to their non-religious peers. These differential family patterns may also be linked to the way religious women allocate their time to the home and the labour market. Moreover, religious teachings and norms of the appropriate division of gender roles may have a direct effect on women’s economic activity. The current study examines religious differences in family and work attitudes as well as female labour force participation in the United Kingdom. In addition, it explores whether religious differences in employment are related to variations in family structure. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, a Generalized Ordered Logistic regression is employed to examine religious differences in attitudes towards the male-breadwinner model of the family and working mothers. A Multinomial regression analysis is also used to examine the likelihood of women from different religious groups to work full-time, part-time or being out of the labour force. The results show that religious individuals tend to hold more conservative views of gender role division. However, it was also found that religious women are less likely to work full-time, compared to non-religious women, only when young children are present in the household.


Family dynamics in Europe: Cross-national comparisons: Tuesday 10 September, 4.45pm

How does human capital affect partnership transitions? Evidence of complex contingencies in a multi-country sample 
Ross Macmillan, University of Bocconi

Second Demographic Transition highlighted three broad social currents: intimate relationships are increasingly unstable, educational attainment has rapidly expanded, and adult roles overlap and compete in complex ways. Time to entry into first partnership is significantly affected by a prolonged permanence in education while, on the contrary, human capital accumulation becomes an asset for subsequent unions. Our empirical analysis on 9 European countries stresses the importance of human capital accumulation in accelerating relationship transitions. However, we show evidence of how the burden of prior relationships’ costs slow down paths of union re-entering. 


The planning status of non-marital fertility
Jorik Vergauwen & Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

Proponents of the SDT argue that the alteration of life style choices constitutes the core process underlying the recent rise in non-marital fertility. Other authors, however, have provided evidence for a negative educational gradient of non-marital childbearing. According to the latter, the relationship between education on the one hand and union formation and fertility on the other, has changed over the last decades with SDT-like behaviours increasingly becoming a sign of disadvantage. Evidence on whether individuals actually intend to have children in unmarried cohabitation is currently lacking. Hence, in this paper we examine i) the educational gradient in intentions to marry and have children, ii) the correspondence between intentions and outcomes and iii) the educational gradient in (un)intended non-marital fertility. Using longitudinal micro data from the Generations & Gender Survey, we consider short term intentions of marrying and/or having a child in the next three years. Based on the combination of intentions, we distinguish four groups: a) women planning a child without getting married, b) women intending to have a child and get married, c) women only intending a marriage and d) women not intending any transition. Subsequently, we compare intentions measured in the first wave of the GGS with the occurrence and sequence of events occurring between both waves. The first part of the paper uses cross-sectional logistic regression to look into fertility and marriage intentions in the first wave of the GGS. Subsequently, discrete-time event history models are used to analyse non-marital birth hazards.


Variation in the intersection between partnership and fertility: A comparison across 3 cohorts in 16 countries
Mark Lyons-Amos, Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton

The intersection between partnership forms and fertility is increasingly complicated in the United States and European countries. This is due to increasing variety in partnership forms, diversity in fertility, and changes in the way that these two processes interact. For example, in countries such as Norway, cohabitation, birth postponement and births to stable but non-marital partnerships are important, while in Italy, birth is largely restricted to marital relationships, which are universal albeit postponed. Moreover, even within dominant regimes there is a considerable amount of sub national variation in the prevalence of different behaviours- for example the continued prevalence of marriage behaviour in Norway (Perelli-Harris and Lyons-Amos 2012). This paper uses Latent Class Growth models to evaluate the relationship between partnership and fertility and how this varies across the United States and 15 European countries. The main aims of the paper are to establish how the intersection between partnership patterns and the timing of first birth varies between countries, and how this association has changed across cohorts.


Between tradition and egalitarianism: Non-linear divorce dynamics in Germany, Great Britain and the USA
Daniela Bellani, Diederik Boertien and Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

For many years now, divorce research has focused on the influence of women’s new economic role. A number of studies show that divorce risks are associated with women’s income. And, yet, there is also mounting evidence that the social gradient of divorce is being reversed. How does one reconcile such findings? In this paper we offer an alternative framework, based on multiple equilibrium models, that predicts that couple instability should be greatest where strong normative consensus is absent – i.e. in unstable equilibria. We should expect significantly lower divorce risks in either the traditional family equilibrium or in a (possibly) emerging gender-egalitarian one. One important upshot is that research on family dynamics should be more sensitive to non-linearities. Using the GSOEP, the BHP and PSID waves 1986-2009; we apply discrete time event history analysis to couples and relate partnership durations to couple specialization. We focus particularly on inequity effects related to the division of domestic and market work.


Kinship: Wednesday 11 September, 11.00am

Family geography and demography in the UK 
Tak Wing Chan, John Ermisch, University of Oxford 

We study geographic proximity between adult children and their parents using data from a very large and nationally representative household survey collected in the United Kingdom during 2009-2010: Understanding Society. Variation in geographic mobility over the life course is very important for intergenerational proximity. In particular, those who move more during their life are more likely to live farther away from their child or parent. There are also large differences in intergenerational proximity between the foreign born and UK born, and among ethnic groups. We test a number of hypotheses on how proximity varies with people’s ‘stable’ demographic attributes (i.e. those which usually do not change much after one’s early 30s). Our evidence is consistent with three long-term trends operating to reduce the proximity between parents and their adult children: declining fertility, more divorce and rising educational attainments. Contrary to earlier studies, our evidence is not consistent with proximity varying with the existence or number of siblings of the adult child. 


Post-separation mobility: Moving closer to the family
Marjolijn Das, NIDI, Statistics Netherlands; Helga de Valk, NIDI, Vrije Universiteit Brussels; d Eva-Maria Merz, NIDI

Starting from a life course perspective this study aims to gain more insight in mobility patterns of recently separated mothers. These mothers may benefit from support of family, in particular grandparents. Also, the grandparents’ home can be a (temporary) place to stay shortly after divorce. Our first research question is where recently separated mothers move to. Second, we examine the role of the grandparents by focusing on moves to the location of the maternal grandmother. Both individual and life course characteristics of the mother are studied as determinants for these residential choices. Data come from the Social Statistical Database of Statistics Netherlands. This unique dataset combines longitudinal data from a vast number of administrative registers. The dataset covers the complete Dutch population making it exceptionally well suited for life course research, including spatial patterns. We study mobility of all mothers with minor children for two years, starting from 2008 up until 2010. Our study includes 1.5 million mothers of which about 30 thousand (2%) experienced a separation in 2008. In the two years after separation, mothers moved to the municipality of the grandmother more often than non-separated mothers. Seven per cent of separated mothers moved in with the grandmother, mostly temporary. After such a period of co-residence, mothers frequently stayed in the grandmother’s municipality. Thus, co-residence appears to influence residential location choice later on. Mothers who move near the grandmother or co-reside are in need of practical support and more economically vulnerable than those who do not.

mdas@cbs.nl  das@nidi.nl

Fostering relations: the differences in sexual and reproductive outcomes between children raised by kin and non-kin carers
Susan Schaffnit, LSHTM; Paula Sheppard, LSHTM; Justin R. Garcia, Indiana University; Rebecca Sear, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Kinship fostering is often assumed to be superior to non-kin fostering despite inconsistent evidence of the advantages of either foster method. Using the unusual and rich Original Kinsey Survey data, collected in the US from 1938 to 1963, we ran event history analyses to compare the effects of living with kin and non-kin fosterers in childhood on the timing of sexual and reproductive behaviours – age at first sex and marriage. We control for parental divorce and death to try to tease apart the effects of living with kin and non-kin from early life disruptions, which have been suggested to be the source of later life outcomes related to fostering.  We expect kin carers to act more similarly to biological parents than non-kin fosterers due to shared genetic interests between carer and child. Kin carers should shield children from premature sexual and reproductive behaviour and encourage slower reproductive strategies in order to invest in embodied capital, as parents do in low fertility societies. Our time-to-event analyses show that while kin fostered children do have somewhat accelerated life histories compared to children from intact families, kin fosterers buffer children from premature sexual and reproductive behaviours compared to children in the care of non-kin fosterers.