Family structures and separations among first time parents in Sweden

Karin L. Lundström, Statistics Sweden
Andreas P. Raneke, Statistics Sweden

The aim of the study is to investigate union formation and separations among first time parents. The data used is based on information from the Swedish Total Population Register and covers about 34 000 couples who had their first child in 2000. The couples are followed from the day that they started living together to a possible separation or the end of 2010. A couple is assumed to live together if both partners are registered in the same dwelling unit. In the study different paths (from family formation to a possible dissolution) are described, the most common being cohabitation, first child and marriage, which corresponds to 25 percent of the couples. The results show that it is more common for the woman to move in with the man than vice versa. If the woman is older than the man, however, it is more common for a couple to start cohabiting in her home. Results also show that while most children in Sweden are born to cohabiting couples most couples eventually marry. Separations are analyzed using a Cox proportional hazard regression model and the results show for example that the propensity to separate is higher during the first years after the child’s year of birth. The risk of separation is higher for couples where the woman is under 24 years when the first child is born and if the couple start to cohabit in connection with the child’s birth. Cohabiting couples are more likely to separate compared to couples who get married either prior to or after the child’s birth. The risk of separation is also high among couples where at least one is foreign-born. Having a second or third child and level of education are examples of other time-dependent covariates that are included.

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Presented in Poster Session 3