The changing social selectivity of living together in West Germany. A cohort related analysis of cumulated microcensuses

Andrea Lengerer, GESIS - Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences

Living together in a partnership is one of the most significant social ties. It is not only a source of mutual support and solidarity, but also a prerequisite for having children. The ways of living together are changing in modern societies. Despite the fact that there has been an intense discussion on the topic in recent years, it is still controversial whether the change is limited to the forms of living together, or whether the amount of living together changes as well. By describing the trends in living together in West Germany, the present study is a further contribution to this debate. Trends are described over a long period of time and over the life course of different cohorts. The study focuses on the social selectivity of living together with a partner. In the context of marriage, there is extensive empirical evidence that the tendency to enter or dissolve a union is dependent on specific conditions. However, little is known about the resulting social structures and how these change. The analyses presented here are based on data from the Microcensus Trendfile. This is a harmonised and cumulated file of all currently available scientific use files of the German Microcensus, covering the time period from the 1960s onwards. To analyse the social selectivity, a logistic regression model is suggested in which the age dependency of living in a partnership is considered and the change of social selectivity is examined on the basis of interaction effects with the cohort. It is shown that men with little education and poor employment and income prospects have always had low odds of living in a partnership. In more recent cohorts such a pattern has evolved for women as well. Changes in household production and in preferences of mate selection are discussed as explanations.

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Presented in Poster Session 1