Childhood Family Structure and Partnership Complexity in Adulthood

Nicole Hiekel, University of Cologne
Sergi Vidal , Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), Universitat de Barcelona

This study investigated the association between childhood living arrangements and complex partnership trajectories in Germany. The authors innovatively capture the increasing differentiation of partnership life courses by applying sequence analysis on partnership histories from the German Family Panel and derive an index capturing how adults accumulate complexity in their partnership biography. Applying linear random effect regression analysis, the authors show that children who did not grow up with both biological parents (i.e. thus in an alternative family structure) follow more complex partnership trajectories beyond the greater likelihood to experience union dissolution. The association was not fully related to the event of parental separation but the change in family structure that follows. Parent’s repartnering behavior did not alleviate offspring’s complex partnership trajectories. Longer exposure to an alternative family structure further increased complexity, although not linearly. This study contributes to our understanding of the reproduction of partnership behavior within families.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity