The impact of education on marriage and cohabitation in western Germany

Katja Köppen, University of Rostock

Many authors argue that changes in union formation behavior are directly linked to the changing role of women. The decline in marriages and rise in cohabitations are associated with women's longer participation in the educational system and the growth in female economic independence. Previous research found education to be a strong factor in explaining differences in marital behavior between social groups within a population. However, studies on the impact of education on union formation came to mixed results. Whether education has a structural or a causal impact on individual behavior is still not clear. The aim of the following work is to study how educational level and educational enrollment impact first union formation risk of western German men and women. The data for this project comes from the German Familiensurvey 2000. A competing-risk framework is used to study direct marriage vs. non--marital cohabitation. For the descriptive results cumulative incidence curves were estimated. For the multivariate analysis piecewise-constant hazard-models are applied. We do not find a clear negative effect of education on marriage formation but even slightly higher marriage risks for highly educated women. Women with tertiary education enter cohabitation more often than other women only if they are still in education. This does not confirm the assumption that highly educated women are assumed to avoid marriage. First preliminary results for men indicate that, contrary to women, living in cohabitation does not seem to be defined to a certain educational or age group. The advantages and disadvantages of a particular type of partnership, either marriage or cohabitation, are not as important for men's union formation behavior as they are for women.

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Presented in Poster Session 1