Is parental divorce homogamy associated with a higher risk of separation from cohabitation and marriage?


Numerous studies have shown that parental divorce increases adult children’s divorce risk. We extend this literature by assessing how parental divorce on both sides of a couple is related to their partnership dynamics. Specifically, we explore (1) whether there is parental divorce homogamy and the parental divorce of both partners is associated with higher dissolution risks from (2) cohabiting and (3) married unions. Our analyses use event history models on high-quality Finnish Census Panel data covering 28,021 cohabiting and marital partnerships and individuals are followed between ages 18 and 45. Findings show substantial parental divorce homogamy. Children who experienced parental divorce are 13% more likely to enter to cohabitation with and 17% more likely to marry a fellow child of divorce. Moreover, contrary to evidence from the United States and Norway, our findings for Finland support an additive, not a multiplicative, association between parental divorce homogamy and union dissolution. Parental divorce homogamy increases offspring’s dissolution risk by 20% for cohabitation and 70% for marriage compared to couples where neither of their parents are divorced. We conclude that parental divorce on both sides of a couple plays a role in union dissolution processes at multiple stages. In Finland, the size of these associations are notably weaker than previously found in the United States. This is likely because cohabitation and separation are wide-spread and socially accepted in Finland and an expansive welfare state buffers the socio-economic consequences of divorce.

Demography - forthcoming