The “Retreat from Marriage” Eastern European Way: Educational Gradient in Transition from Cohabitation to Marriage in Lithuania and Belarus

Mare Baublyte , Vytautas Magnus university
Ausra Maslauskaite, Vytautas Magnus University

Since 1990s cohabitation proliferated across many countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which resulted in the increase of marriage age and falling marriage rates. However, marriage remains a normative and socially aspired way of the organization of family life in the majority of the countries of the region. In this paper, we examine whether the “retreat from marriage” is socially stratified in two countries of CEE. Our focus is on family formation behavior of recent cohort (1970-1984) in Lithuania and Belarus and we analyze the educational gradient in the transition from cohabitation to marriage across gender groups and across countries. The two neighboring countries represent the site of “the natural experiment” because after the 1990s their developmental paths diverged radically. Our main hypothesis suggest the pattern of disadvantage in the transition to marriage to be manifest in Lithuania, which represents the case of radical neoliberal capitalism. The analysis is based on Families and Inequalities Survey (2019), Lithuania, and Generations and Gender Survey 2020 Wave 1, Belarus (2017). Based on matching indicators we created the pooled dataset (N= 5859), which includes partnership and fertility histories. The main dependent variable is the transition from cohabitation (first) to marriage and independent variables are individual and couple level educational recourses. We apply the descriptive methods and event history analysis (a piecewise constant exponential models). Preliminary results support our main hypothesis and show the positive educational gradient in the transition from cohabitation to marriage across gender groups in Lithuania but not in Belarus.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course