Enrolment as an Excuse? On the Causal Effect of Education on Fertility Postponement

Women’s mean age at first birth steeply increased by as many as 4–5 years during the second half of the twentieth century throughout Europe and the United States, and was accompanied by an overall increase in educational attainment. It has been argued that the educational expansion is largely responsible for fertility postponement for a number of reasons. Being enrolled in education may, for example, lead to postponement of childbearing because combining student and mother roles is difficult, given that they both entail time-intensive tasks. Continue reading

Contraception as a Rational Choice or Social Practice?

Couples’ fertility control is most often perceived as a rational decision-making process, thereby assuming that people – and women in particular – who want to prevent conception will rely on the most effective method available. Accordingly, it is argued that the introduction of hormonal methods in advanced economies was paralleled by a linear transition from irrational ineffective methods to rational effective ones.

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Will the Affordable Care Act Eliminate Perplexing Inequalities in Contraceptive Sterilization?

In the United States, just under half (48.1%) of partnered women aged 25–44 using contraception rely on sterilization for fertility control. In our recent study, Gender, Class, and Contraception in Comparative Context: The Perplexing Links between Sterilization and Disadvantage (2016), Megan Sweeney and I show that levels of contraceptive sterilization are similarly high in Australia (39.6% of partnered women aged 25–44 using contraception), but they tend to be much lower and more variable across Europe. With the exception of Australia and Belgium, female sterilization is more common than male sterilization in all of the countries studied (Austria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Romania, Russia, and the United States), despite the latter being simpler, more effective, less often regretted, more economical, and having lower rates of minor and major complications.

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The Causal Effect of a Genetic Liability for Schizophrenia on the Age at First Birth

There is a well-established empirical association between parental age and children’s well being. Typically, children of teenage parents and parents with a very late age at first birth are worse off in terms of their socio-economic status and (mental) health compared to children of 20-35 years old mothers. So far, this relationship has been attributed to unstable relationships of young parents and their low economic resources as well as the decreasing (physical) health of older parents which, for example, may complicate conception, pregnancy and birth (for an excellent demographic introduction into the topic please check out the dissertation of Alice Goisis at LSE: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/844/).

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Children’s Economic Well-Being in Same-Sex Mother Families

While there is increasing support for same-sex parent families and recent state-wide legalization of marriages to same-sex couples in the U.S., there is only a small body of research that examines the economic, academic, social, or psychological well-being of children living in same-sex parent families (Manning et al. 2014).  There are increasing numbers of children residing in same-sex couple parent families, but a key constraint has been that there are relatively few data sets with ample numbers of children residing in same-sex parent families.

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When Deaths Exceed Births: Natural Decrease in Europe and the United States

Natural decrease occurs when deaths in an area exceed births. If such natural decrease is prolonged, there is a substantial risk of population loss. Seventeen European nations had more people dying than being born between 2000 and 2009, including several of Europe’s most populous countries. The United States, in contrast, has always seen births exceed deaths by a substantial margin. Our research focuses on the prevalence and dynamics of natural decrease in subareas of Europe and the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century. We found that 58 percent of the 1,391 counties of Europe (NUTS3 units) had more deaths than births during that period compared to just 28 percent of the 3,137 U.S. counties. (See Figure 1)

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Should the UK Government Expand Pro-Marriage Tax Relief?

In April 2015, David Cameron’s government implemented legislation to promote marriage by providing tax relief for low-income married couples. While nearly four million couples could potentially claim the benefit of around £212 per year, it has been difficult to obtain and relatively few have done so. Now the government has plans to expand these tax benefits to more married couples in order to “send a strong signal that we back marriage.” (Cameron 2014) This raises the question of whether marriage, compared to cohabitation, does indeed boost well-being, and whether incentives to marry need to be expanded.

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Parents Repartnering Parents: The ‘Complex’ Nature of Stepfamily Formation

Due to high union dissolution rates, single parents are increasingly present on the relational market. Gaining insight into the re-partnering dynamics among these individuals is relevant from different perspectives. From a parent’s perspective, forming a new union has been identified as one of the main predictors of ‘recovering’ from the dissolution of a previous union, both in terms of improving social and emotional well-being, and financial resources (Sweeney 2010). From a child’s perspective, the arrival of a stepparent increases the availability of parental resources in the household. However, empirical evidence supporting the beneficial effects of a transition from single-parent family to stepfamily remains scarce and inconclusive (Sweeney 2010).

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Consensual Unions and Religion in Brazil

According to the most recent World Value Survey (WVS) conducted in Brazil in 2014, roughly 78% of the Brazilian population disagreed with the statement that marriage is an outdated institution. This share has increased since 1991, when the first WVS wave in Brazil revealed that 71% disagreed with this statement. This temporal change may indicate that Brazilians’ beliefs on family issues have moved in a more traditional or conservative direction. Continue reading

Living Apart Together and Cohabitation Intentions in Britain

The past century has witnessed significant changes in the ways people practice their relationships. A century ago marriage was ‘in vogue,’ and people in an intimate relationship seldom lived with a partner before getting married. However, since the 1970s, there has been a trend towards pre-marital cohabitation, followed closely by a rising prevalence of cohabitation without marriage. At the dawn of the 21st century, ‘living apart together (LAT)’ — that is, a couple in a steady and committed relationship who live apart in two separate households — is a new buzzword hailed to predict the future of intimate partnerships.

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