The Meaning of Cohabitation and Marriage across European Societies

Nicole Hiekel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Anne-Rigt Poortman, Utrecht University

The study investigates the meaning of cohabitation and marriage across European countries. We define “meaning of the relationship” as intentions, expectations and attitudes that people have about their relationship: marital intentions, expected separation, attitudes toward a marriage’s permanence. These factors reveal commitment towards a relationship. Cross-national differences in the heterogeneity among cohabiters and spouses, show – besides individual variation - different meanings of cohabitation and marriage across countries. Two research questions are addressed: Do cohabitants and married couples differ in their commitment and does this vary across countries? Are their explanations the same across countries? Using data from ten Gender and Generation Surveys (GGS 2005/2006) we examine levels of commitment of cohabiting and married couples. We present descriptive figures for each of our measures of commitment for all countries (N = 69.228). In future analyses, a typology capturing different levels of commitment among cohabiters and married persons will be developed.

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Presented in Poster Session 1