Transitions within and from First Unions: Educational Effects in an Extended Winnowing Model

Jan M. Saarela, Åbo Akademi University
Fjalar Finnäs, Åbo Akademi University

We study how different transitional phases from childless cohabitation relate to education and educational resemblance of partners. Using longitudinal population register data from Finland, we extend analyses of previous research to suit conditions in societies where almost all unions begin before marriage and much childbearing takes place outside marriage. Educationally heterogamous couples are found to have higher separation risks than homogamous ones and a smaller tendency to marry or become parents. Winnowing consequently takes place also after parenthood, but the strongest effect is recently after couples have entered a cohabiting union. Traditional family formation behavior in terms of marriage before children is nevertheless more common among higher-educated people. Lower-educated couples constitute the lion’s share of all those who become parents before they marry and they are much more likely to remain as unmarried parents. Hence, if parenthood is taken into account, marital status remains an important device for categorizing couples.

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Presented in Poster Session 5