“Your Place, My Place or yet Another?” Assortative Mating and the Place of a Couple’s First Joint Household

Christine Schnor , UCLouvain
Clara H. Mulder, University of Groningen

This study links the characteristics of newly-formed couples to their location choice, distinguishing between four possible outcomes: 1) he moves to her place, 2) she moves to his place, 3) they move to a third place, 4) they are from the same place. We investigate the specific role of assortative mating with regard to education, age, family structure and local ties (living at birth place, homeownership) in the process of household formation. We perceive location choice as a bargaining process and education, gender, age, local ties and children as assets of bargaining power. We expect that the partner with more bargaining power is more likely to stay in his/her environment, whereas the partner with less power is more likely to move. Beyond that, we expect that the more educated both partners are, the less likely it is that they are from the same municipality and that they will stay there. Integral micro data from Belgian population census and register enables us to study household formation among all new cohabiters in the period 2001-2006. Results show support for the bargaining hypothesis in heterogamous couples, but location choice is not influenced by gender. More educated couples are indeed more likely to move to a new location. The findings suggest that especially age and children indeed increase bargaining power in location choice. Next, we will include more information (distance to non-resident family members, occupation, place of work, recent separation) and investigate in greater detail the group of couples who chose a third place.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 59. Family and Life Course Perspective on Internal Migration