How Similar Are Cohabitation and Marriage with Respect to Childbearing? Second Birth Rates by Union Type across Europe and the United States

Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton

The increase in births within cohabitation in the United States and across Europe suggests that cohabitation and marriage have become similar with respect to childbearing. However, few studies have studied second births by union type. Here we examine second conception risks for mothers in 15 countries. Results show that women who continuously cohabit have lower second birth risks than married women in all countries except those in Eastern Europe, even when controlling for union duration and union dissolution. Pooled models show that the relationship between second conception and union type is significantly different in Eastern and Western Europe. Pooled models also show that the prevalence of cohabitation does not explain differences between countries. However, in all countries except Estonia, women who marry after first birth have second birth risks similar to continuously married women, suggesting that the sequence of marriage and childbearing does not matter to subsequent fertility.

  See paper

Presented in Session 56: Non-Marital and Diverse Family Forms