Couples’ Fertility Differentials by Education: Do Stepchildren Make a Difference?

Laurent Toulemon , Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Alessandra Trimarchi, Institut National d’Études Démographiques (INED)

In the last decades, increasing divorce and union dissolution rates have contributed to the spread of stepfamilies in many European countries. Stepfamilies often present peculiar combinations in term of partners’ human capital, which eventually has consequences on family wellbeing. Using Generations and Gender Surveys data of 15 European countries, we analyze the association between educational pairing and couples’ fertility based on different definitions of couples’ children. Applying standard fertility indicators (mean number of children, proportion childless) and regression techniques, we test whether highly educated homogamous couples less often have stepchildren (born from one partner before the union) and remain less often without shared children. Next, we test whether, among heterogamous couples, the partner with lower education, male or female, is more likely to bring children within the new union. Do these assumptions, based on the recent trends observed in France, hold in other European countries? Preliminary findings show that, across all European countries, less and less couples remain childless when stepchildren are considered, with differentials by education almost vanishing for cohorts born around 1970. As expected, stepchildren are less common among homogamous couples and couples with at least one highly educated partner. Heterogamous couples have more stepchildren and fewer common children. Still, the overall mean number of children is especially related to the level of education, rather than the combination of partners’ educational attainment. Country-differences and time trends in Europe will be further discussed.

See extended abstract

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