Student, spouse, parent? A worldwide test of the role incompatibility hypothesis among adolescents and young adults

Albert Esteve, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Timothy L. M. Riffe, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Jeroen J. A. Spijker, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Joan Garcia Roman, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)

This paper examines the role-compatibility hypothesis behind the effects of education on marriage and childbearing worldwide. Data come from more than 50 IPUMS-International census microdata samples and over 70 DHS samples from the year 2000 or thereabouts. We use information on current school attendance and whether or not an individual is in union or has had a child, concentrating on the ages 12-24 where the role incompatibility hypothesis is most plausible. The lower age limit is placed near the end of primary education in many of the countries and where many girls in (very) early marriage cultures start to marry and may even have children. The upper limit corresponds to the average age where tertiary education ends, not including postgraduate studies. The objective is threefold, i.e. to examine 1) the consistency of the role incompatibility hypothesis between countries among male and female adolescents and young adults. 2) how the degree of exclusivity of education and marriage and/or parenting roles varies between countries depending on aggregate levels of union formation and childbearing at relatively young ages; and 3) how much of the cross-national variability in union formation at these ages is due to country differences in school enrollment/attendance rates. Preliminary results show that for both males and females and for all ages those in school are on average more single and childless than those not in school. In addition, between-country variation for both singlehood and childlessness is much greater for those outside of school than for those in school, at least until around age 21. This is plausible given that those having finished school are still heterogeneous with respect to educational attainment and other characteristics whose distributions could vary across countries. Results thus suggest that as age increase, the role incompatibility weakens and more so for women than for men.

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Presented in Session 42: Education and demography in developing countries